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It's OK to mix and match COVID-19 booster shoots. Which one should I get?

Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Topping up your protection against severe COVID-19 while avoiding the risk of rare vaccine side effects should not be rocket science.

But just ask the experts who advised federal regulators to authorize additional shots: There’s no simple formula to guide Americans’ decisions about booster shots.

Whether you should get a booster shot and which one you should get depends on who you are, what medical vulnerabilities you have, and what vaccine you got first. The people you live with or the kind of work you do might also influence your choice.

And then there’s the deeply personal matter of how much risk — of COVID-19 or of vaccine side effects — you’re willing to accept.

Even if a vaccine’s protection has slipped with time, many fully vaccinated young people, or those who’ve had an infection before or after being vaccinated, can reasonably decide that their likelihood of becoming very sick remains low.

The experts who advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week made clear they were not recommending boosters for all; they were recommending that millions of people who are fully vaccinated have access to a booster shot if they want one.

 

A new government study on mixing and matching vaccines has added more options — and thus more complexity — to the issue of boosters.

The results so far are preliminary, and the participants are still being tracked. But after at least 12 weeks of follow-up, researchers haven’t detected any ill effects in people who were first inoculated with one COVID-19 vaccine and then got a booster shot of another.

These reassuring findings led Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, to leave the choice in patients’ hands.

“Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster,” the agency said in new guidance issued late Thursday. “CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.”

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