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New Study Shows Receiving Different COVID-19 Vaccines Can Rev Up Immune Response

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Questions around booster dozes of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are swirling, with all three manufacturers in varying stages of the approval process with the FDA and CDC.

A promising new study shows that mixing boosters can rev up the immune response and help provide more protection against the delta variant. It's not authorized yet, but the findings from the National Institutes of Health suggest some combinations of the different doses could be beneficial.

"This is really good news," said Dr. Jon Weidanz, immunologist and Associate Vice President for Research at UT Arlington. "It may actually help us broaden the response against future variants as well."

Allowing people to receive the different vaccine types could also improve distribution and access to the shot.

"One of the things is if the supply isn't there for whatever reason, having the ability to do a different vaccine and know it's as effective, if not even more effective, that would be a positive," said Dr. Jerry Simecka, Regents Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UNT Health Science Center.

The initial data suggests that boosting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with either a Moderna or Pfizer shot produces more antibodies than a second shot of the J&J vaccine.

Those who were originally vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna shots and then received the other company's booster showed similar results.

It's something the FDA's vaccine advisory panel is looking into right now but hasn't taken a formal vote on.

"We'll have some guidance, hopefully in the not too distant future, about which combinations are beneficial and which may or may not be so helpful," Dr. Simecka said.

In the meantime, experts urge people to have patience before rushing to get another shot.

"Many of these approaches are still being investigated, so they haven't received full FDA approval," Dr. Weidanz said. "So I think the best sort of advice is to go talk to their doctor or primary health care person just to make sure they're doing the right thing by getting this third shot or this booster or by mixing the different vaccines right now."

The FDA's vaccine advisory panel did vote unanimously Friday, Oct. 15 to recommend an extra dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to everyone who got that type of shot initially.

The FDA typically follows the advice of that committee, so we could see a final decision from regulators on that issue within days.

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