Booster Shots Easier to Get in Mass. After Federal Approval, Boston Doctors Say

Local doctors, clinics and pharmacies can start administering COVID vaccine booster shots Friday in Massachusetts now that federal health officials approved the mix and match approach

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Approval from federal health officials to mix and match coronavirus vaccines make the shots much easier to get in Massachusetts, Boston doctors say.

“Allowing people to get any vaccine makes this extremely convenient. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you got, what your clinic has, what your pharmacy has, all people can get all doses right now," said Dr. Mark Siedner, an infectious diseases clinician at Massachusetts General Hospital. "It just makes it easier for people to get additional doses at this point.”

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday extended COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially. It was also endorsed Thursday by a CDC advisory panel.

Tufts Medical Center's Dr. Shira Doron said the approval is "really important," since physicians have already been recommending the mix and match approach, during an episode of NBC10 Boston's weekly "COVID Q&A" series.

Top Boston doctors talk about the "mix and match" approach to COVID vaccine booster shots, variations in vaccine efficacy and school mask mandates.

The decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month, by making millions more Americans eligible.

Local doctors, clinics and pharmacies can start administering booster shots Friday. New appointments for boosters were added to the CVS website Friday morning, which allows people to choose their preferred type of shot regardless of the type that was used in their initial vaccination series.

There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster, however.

Starting six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they're 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems.

Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.

Moderna's booster will come at half the dose of the original two shots.

As for recipients of the single-shot J&J vaccine, a COVID-19 booster is recommended for everyone at least two months after their vaccination. That's because the J&J vaccine hasn't proved as protective as the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer options.

Millions more Americans will have access to booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines after the FDA and the CDC approved new measures.

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