Triangle hospitals, health departments prepare for Moderna, J&J booster authorization


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines could get the green light by the end of the week. The FDA is expected to announce authorization Wednesday with a CDC panel meeting Thursday.

Triangle hospitals and health departments are preparing.

About 100 people a day get their Pfizer boosters from Wake County Public Health. With authorization expected soon for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, that number will likely rise.

“They want to get that extra shot of protection,” explained Stacy Beard, spokesperson for Wake County Public Health.

The health department is planning to offer all authorized boosters by appointment.

“We do have clinical staff that have been training up to handle all three vaccines in one location, but also at the possible different dosages needed,” Beard said.

There is a lot for health officials to keep track of. The Moderna booster may be half the dose of the original shot.

“For Moderna, it’s going to be a little bit different,” said Dr. Erica Pettigrew, a family physician with UNC Health. “We are working through ways to make sure that stays absolutely safe.”

Those giving the shots will also know the different eligibility rules for different types of vaccines.

“What seems pretty certain is that people who got J&J should definitely get a booster, and most likely they will get more bang for their buck if they get an mRNA — Pfizer or Moderna — assuming that is how all of the approvals go,” Pettigrew said.

She said it’s less clear whether Pfizer and Moderna recipients should mix and match vaccines if it’s allowed. She said the FDA and CDC may provide more clarity when they make their recommendations.

With so much new information, though, some people may still be confused and have questions. Doctors and health departments said they’re there to help.

“Ask those questions,” Beard said. “Say, ‘Hey, could I get this other dose? Is that authorized?’ Those are OK questions to ask.”

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