The Moderna booster, another mRNA vaccine, received the go-ahead from health authorities on October 21.
Who is eligible?
The Moderna booster is available to the same groups who are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, including:
- Adults 65 years of age and older and residents of long-term care facilities.
- People ages 18-64 with underlying illnesses that put them at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
- People ages 18-64 whose jobs or life situations increase their exposure to COVID-19, including healthcare workers, teachers, and people who live and work in prisons and homeless shelters.
- Anyone 18 years or older who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago and wants a Moderna booster.
When can you start receiving it?
If you were vaccinated with the two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna: You can receive the Moderna booster at least six months after the second injection; that is, many people who were vaccinated last winter and early spring can begin receiving the booster.
If you received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine: You are entitled to receive the Moderna booster vaccination at least two months after your initial J&J vaccination.
What are the side effects?
Moderna’s booster vaccine is different from the Pfizer and J&J boosters because it is half the dose (50 micrograms) of the initial vaccine.
Still, studies show that the side effects of this smaller dose are similar to what many experienced after the first and second doses in the series; among the most common are:
- Pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit were seen more frequently after the Moderna booster dose than after the two-dose primary series, according to the FDA.
What are the rare reactions associated with this vaccine?
Like Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s product has also been linked to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart). These cases are rare and have occurred mainly in young men (30 years or younger) after the second dose of the vaccine.
Other serious side effects can occur, but are rare, such as anaphylaxis, which is a serious allergic reaction that can occur after any vaccination.
Can I receive reinforcement from another brand?
Yes. If you are eligible to receive the Moderna booster, but do not have access to it or want to receive a booster from Pfizer O J&J, that is an option, based on new guidelines from the FDA and CDC.
Preliminary results from a federally funded study show that mixing vaccine boosters can produce a higher level of antibodies, which are a measure of immune response, and no safety concerns were identified.
Approving people to mix the products also makes receiving the booster more practical, especially in areas where options may be more limited. However, if you’re considering giving yourself a booster from another brand, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first, experts say.