COLUMBIA - Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are now available for those who have completed the vaccination series. 

After the FDA gave emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine booster doses a month ago, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots have been available to eligible individuals since Thursday.

According to the CDC, individuals who got the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as their initial series are recommended to get their booster shots after 6 months or more.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced in a press release Friday the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can now be administered to all Missourians.

For people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the boosters are available to those who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

CDC also authorized a mix and match approach. Missourians now have the option to choose what kind of vaccine they want for a booster, regardless of their initial vaccine type. 

According to a National Institutes of Health study, the mix and match approach is safe and effective.

“It looks like the mRNA [Pfizer and Moderna] vaccines continue to produce a stronger antibody response,” vaccine co-chair and a family medicine physician at MU Health Care Dr. Laura Morris said. “For that reason, it is probably not going to benefit anyone to switch from mRNA to Johnson & Johnson unless there's a specific concern about side effects. Otherwise, most people should probably choose their booster to be an mRNA vaccine.”

Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, while Johnson & Johnson is an adenovirus vaccine. 

"Everybody who received one dose of Johnson & Johnson will benefit from getting a second dose of a different vaccine," Morris said. 

Morris also mentioned the different side effects that various groups of people experience based on their age and gender. For young women, she said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine carries a small risk of serious blood clots. Thus, she would said those people get an mRNA vaccine. 

However, Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, tends to happen in younger men with the mRNA vaccines.

Individuals now have flexibility to choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. The booster could help to protect people from serious infection from hospitalization and also reduce the risk of death. 

However, the key to stop the spread of the COVID-19 is to get unvaccinated people to get their primary shots.

“The biggest impact is not really from the boosters, the impact is really going to be from vaccinating people who've not yet received the vaccine dose at all,” Morris said. 

As for whether people can get their flu shot and booster shot at the same time, Morris said yes.

“It doesn't harm your immune system,” she said. “We absolutely don't want patients delaying vaccination because they think that they have to wait and space out between these two shots, or in fact, any vaccines.”

MU Health Care offers all three booster shots by appointment only. The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services also offers all three vaccine boosters by appointment.

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