- The Washington Times - Friday, October 22, 2021

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Friday said Americans who got a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 should feel comfortable in getting the same brand as a booster after federal officials made it easier for Americans to shop around.

Both versions use messenger RNA, a type of technology that uses genetic instructions to teach the body to detect and fight the virus.

“If you’ve gotten Pfizer or Moderna and if you did well with your primary series, I think it’s quite reasonable to stick with what you’ve got originally,” Dr. Murthy told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Dr. Murthy spoke after federal officials late Thursday approved booster options for all three vaccines approved in the U.S.

Persons who are older than 65, adults with underlying conditions and people in high-risk jobs who received an initial series from Pfizer or Moderna may seek out a booster from any of the three vaccines if they are at least six months out from their second dose.

Any American adult who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago may seek another dose of any vaccine. There are concerns that the 15 million J&J recipients need another dose to match the efficacy demonstrated by the other vaccines.

“The good news is that for Johnson & Johnson, you’ve got good options now available,” he said. “The data show that folks who got Johnson & Johnson and got boosted with Moderna or with Pfizer had a really strong antibody response.”

Data from J&J showed a second dose of their vaccine can also boost efficacy against symptomatic disease to 94%.

Biden administration officials, wary of breakthrough infections and potential hospitalizations as vaccine-induced immunity wanes, want people to get boosters once they are eligible.

“We have good options now, we have flexibility in terms of which vaccines you get, and the boosters will extend and enhance people’s protection,” Dr. Murthy said. “So if you’re eligible, I would urge people to go out there and get that booster shot.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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