Mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines? What to consider when getting your booster shot

California's health officials are encouraging adults to get a COVID-19 booster six months after being vaccinated.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- There are lots of questions surrounding the COVID-19 booster shot now that millions of Americans are eligible to receive it. Since learning people can mix and match that extra dose, it's brought up the question: which booster shot should you get?

First, who should get a booster shot?

California's health officials are encouraging adults to get a COVID-19 booster if it's been six months since they've been vaccinated.

"It's really wise to get a booster shot, particularly if you're over 65, [have] any underlying medical conditions or if you are at high risk of getting exposed," said Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an ER Specialist and CEO of Mend Urgent Care. "A boost is a great idea for you."

COVID-19 booster shots for all three vaccines are authorized in the U.S. and the CDC has given the green light to mix and match - meaning your booster shot can be a different brand from your original vaccination.

So which COVID-19 booster shot one is best for you?

In a very preliminary study by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, that hasn't yet been peer reviewed, the Moderna booster showed it gave the most increase in antibodies for all three of the vaccines. However, Dr. Cardillo said the difference in the results for people who got Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are subtle.

"I would caution people to really be careful on trying to dissect too closely," said Dr. Cardillo, "And forego the decision to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. Just get vaccinated and just get a booster, whichever you can get. They're all doing a really good job."

However, if you got a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Dr. Cardillo said the studies show getting a Moderna booster may be beneficial.

"So, that's the one piece of advice. We're telling patients if you've gotten J&J up front, a Moderna as a second booster has been shown to be most efficacious," Dr. Cardillo said. "Everything else, the numbers are very, very close and really, at this juncture, not worth microscopically analyzing."

Dr. Cardillo also said he got the Pfizer vaccine and took the approach of sticking to what his body was already used to.
"It's a really good stance to take," Dr. Cardillo said. "You know your body responded well with, so that's a really great approach to do that. I would highly encourage that. It's what I did for myself."

Bottom line: experts say first and foremost, get vaccinated. And get a booster six months after that. If you're unsure what might work best for you, talk to your primary care doctor.

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