ST. LOUIS — Now that a booster dose is approved for many who got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, millions who got either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots are left wondering what they should do to best be protected against the virus.
Dr. Rachel Presti, a Washington University vaccine expert who’s worked on some of the trials, says nothing, for now.
“The only thing they should be doing is being patient, recognizing that the vaccines are still quite effective,” said Dr. Presti.
People with weakened immune systems are cleared for a third mRNA shot, which includes Moderna as well as Pfizer, but Dr. Presti says we are still watching data to determine if boosters are necessary for most people.
“There is some data that's been put out by Moderna and by J & J that those vaccines may be holding up a little bit better and there isn't a big hurry to get another dose,” said Dr. Presti. “It's not like we're seeing one of the vaccines fall off significantly in terms of efficacy. It's just that there's some data from Pfizer that's already available that says another shot does look like it's useful.”
Remember: Pfizer was the first shot available, so more people in high-risk health or job situations got that shot.
“When we're talking about other vaccines, they weren't given until later and they were given to a more diverse kind of population in terms of age and risk. And there's probably time to wait and say, 'ok, what do we really need to do?'” said Dr. Presti.
She says people who were initially vaccinated with either Johnson & Johnson or Moderna shouldn’t get a Pfizer dose, as mixing vaccine types is not recommended in most cases.
“We just don't really know how that's going to work and moving forward, then you put yourself further and further into a group where we just don't have data,” she said.
Moderna has submitted recent data to the FDA for review, and Johnson & Johnson is currently watching how two doses of their shot change efficacy. Updated guidance for recipients of both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson should come in a matter of weeks.