Booster shots: Why some people who got the J&J as a first dose aren’t mixing it up


CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — As of this week, local mass vaccination sites now have all three vaccines available for COVID-19 booster shots, and some pharmacies and health care providers have options as well.

Mixing and matching vaccines also has the green light from federal health officials —  but many folks are hesitant to switch it up.

The FDA’s approval to administer booster shots of all three vaccine types came as great news for people who’ve been waiting for an extra dose.  Even though health officials say mixing vaccines is safe and possibly more effective in certain cases, some are saying consistency is their priority.

Catherine Wheless has chronic illnesses, which makes the possibility of getting COVID-19 terrifying.

“I have to take so many medications and [take] precautions,” she told 8News. 

She finally got a COVID-19 booster on Wednesday at Chesterfield’s Hull street Community Vaccination Center (CVC). Wheless opted for a second Johnson & Johnson dose.

“Even though they say it’s okay to mix your vaccines, I chose not to do that,” she said. 

“Even though they say it’s okay to mix your vaccines, I chose not to do that,” said Catherine Wheless, who got her COVID-19 booster on Wednesday. (Photo: Alex Thorson)

Mixing and matching is expected to interest people like Wheless because the one-and-done vaccine is less effective, and some data suggests people are better protected with a different second shot. The VDH is recommending that people who got J&J first doses get a booster shot just two months after their first dose, whereas boosters for Pfizer and Moderna are recommended six months after a person’s second shot.

For this Chesterfield woman, it’s about consistency.

“I had very mild symptoms with the first shot and so I didn’t want to test fate,” Wheless said. 

Even though she’s not comfortable switching it up, she said everyone should choose what they think is best for them.

“I’m a little wary of that personally but I wouldn’t disparage anyone else that chose to do that,” she said.

If you’re unsure what to choose, the Department of Health encourages you to talk with your health care provider. 

“If you decide to get a booster dose by mixing and matching, VDH urges you to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider who can assist you in making the best decision for your own situation,” said Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Danny Avula. “We also stress that all three vaccines authorized for administration in the United States are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death.”

People 65 and up, those living in long-term care facilities, and folks 18 or older with underlying health conditions are also currently eligible for booster shots.

The FDA recommended vaccines for children ages 5-11 on Wednesday. Full approval is expected within about a week.

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