New booster guidance expected this week

Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 17:31:51-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — There could be new guidelines for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson boosters by Friday. A CDC committee is meeting Thursday to issue guidelines.

The boosters are meant to address waning immunity, which varies by person and type of vaccine.

On average, over a thousand people are dying a day from COVID-19 in the U.S.

“It’s such a big number and it’s been going on for so long some of us have become kind of numb to that number but thousands of families are losing a loved one every day. We need to stay vigilant,” said Dr. Christopher Thompson, an associate professor at Loyola University Maryland.

While the risk of death is much higher for unvaccinated people, the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell highlighted that it’s not unheard of for a fully vaccinated person to succumb to the disease.

Dr. Thompson said that’s why it’s so important to get more people vaccinated, and keep up your own immunity.

Booster shots have been found as a safe way to do that.

“Getting a pretty significant increase in the number antibodies or the amount of antibodies that people are producing. And this is especially true for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which was the single dose vaccine. So we are seeing a great amount of improvement there,” said Dr. Thompson.

Several million Americans have already gotten a Pfizer booster and Thursday, a CDC panel will issue guidelines for the other two COVID vaccines.

Last week, an FDA panel put out its own recommendations.

For use of Moderna, the recommendations were similar to Pfizers, but the panel made a different choice Johnson and Johnson, recommending it for everyone who got the single shot at least two months after the first dose.

The CDC committee will also consider mixing and matching booster brands.

A study that hasn’t yet been peer reviewed found mixing and matching tends to produce a better immune response, especially for Johnson and Johnson recipients.

"It looks like mixing with one of the mRNA vaccines gives immensely better protection, so it might be that people are recommended if you got the J&J vaccine that you get an mRNA vaccine as a booster," said Dr. Thompson.

The booster recommendations won't become official until after the CDC's director affirms who should get them and when.