Mix-and-match strategy will 'remove barriers to access' to COVID-19 vaccine boosters

NOW: Mix-and-match strategy will ’remove barriers to access’ to COVID-19 vaccine boosters

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Area health care providers are preparing for the latest developments in COVID-19 vaccine guidelines after the Food and Drug Administration OK'd a mix-and-match strategy for booster shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took up the topic on Thursday, Oct. 21. The CDC panel backed the plan and is now just waiting for an official approval from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

"This, to me, is a really good thing, that people can now have the options of many different vaccines instead of being held to the one they had before," Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW Health's medical director of infection control, told CBS 58.

Experts believe this will make the booster shot process easier and simpler. Currently, only immunocompromised adults and those who work in high-risk environments are officially recommended to get the boosters. But an expansion of the eligible group is expected later this fall.

"The idea is to remove barriers to access and to make it as easy for whoever would like a vaccine of any kind to be able to get that vaccine," Safdar said.

The mixing and matching strategy to boost immunity is not new, as it has been used for different vaccines for years. The FDA also reviewed data on mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines before giving the thumbs up this week.

Some pharmacies have already provided mix-and-match combinations for immunocompromised patients with good results, which they say should alleviate concerns of any severe adverse side effects.

"The mixing and matching is not completely new," Hayat Pharmacy CEO Hashim Zaibak said in an interview. "For the immunocompromised patients, a few weeks ago we were allowed to mix and match only within the messenger RNA, Moderna-Pfizer, Pfizer-Moderna. So, we've done that and we haven't really seen any different reactions."

Health care experts say vaccines are widely available and expect most people to be able to get their booster with the same vaccine manufacturer as their first dose if they wish.

Dr. Nasdar emphasized the vaccines are all effective against COVID-19 and eligible patients should seek out what is available to them when they get their booster.

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