As they become available in NC, how to decide which COVID-19 vaccine booster to get

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On Friday, North Carolina officials announced COVID-19 boosters were available anywhere you get the normal vaccines.

Both the FDA and the CDC have allowed for mixing and matching of the boosters.

People can stick to the same brand but if they’re looking to switch it up, there are factors like gender and age to consider.

North Carolina Department of Health of Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen got her booster shot at the North Carolina State Fair on Friday.

She switched from Johnson & Johnson to Moderna.

“Having everyone talk to their doctor, or their nurse practitioner is a really good way to decide for themselves about what’s right. The good news all are safe,” Cohen said

An NIH study showed Moderna was the best booster for building protective antibodies but Dr. Cameron Wolfe at Duke Health warned about making your choice based on this alone.

“They didn’t look at how many people actually got infected, how many people’s antibodies were above a threshold that might have protected them, did they lay down cellular memory,” Wolfe said.

Each vaccine has its unique characteristics. Myocarditis, a swelling of the heart muscle, is a rare side effect for the mRNA vaccines. It’s most often found in young men.

Blood clotting is a rare side effect found in some women who take Johnson & Johnson.

“Those risks are actually just so rare, I don’t think they should necessarily sway our decision making about which ones to get,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe knows the boosters come with a lot of new information. He said a good question to ask your doctor is why you shouldn’t get another dose of your current vaccine.

“I think we can over-complexify if we’re not careful, and that’s that doesn’t help people make the right choice. The right choice is to make sure they’re vaccinated,” said Wolfe.

Booster combinations

For those with a primary series of the Johnson & Johnson, protective antibodies increased by:

  • 76 times when boosted with Moderna
  • 4 times when boosted with Johnson & Johnson
  • 35 times when boosted with Pfizer

For those with a primary series of the Moderna, protective antibodies increased by:

  • 10 times when boosted with Moderna
  • 6 times when boosted with Johnson & Johnson
  • 11 times when boosted with Pfizer

For those with a primary series of the Pfizer, protective antibodies increased by:

  • 31 times when boosted with Moderna
  • 12 times when boosted with Johnson & Johnson
  • 20 times when boosted with Pfizer

Who qualifies for a booster?

Moderna and Pfizer

  • At least six months after your second dose
  • 65 years or older
  • 18 years or older who:
    • live or work in a nursing home or long-term care facility;  
    • have underlying medical conditions; 
    • work in high-risk settings like healthcare workers, teachers and childcare providers or food workers; or,
    • live or work in a place where many people live together (for example, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, migrant farm housing, dormitories or other group living settings in colleges or universities)

Johnson & Johnson

  • At least two months after your second dose
  • 18 years or older

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