U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNBC on Friday that Americans should consider their primary vaccine series when deciding on a booster, noting that all three available are safe and effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Thursday approved the distribution of booster doses of Moderna‘s Covid vaccine for adults most at risk, six months after their second shots and Johnson & Johnson boosters for all those 18 and over who received the initial shot at least two months ago.
The agency also cleared mix-and-match booster shots, leaving it up to doctors to decide which booster dose would be most beneficial to patients. The CDC last month approved booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for Americans most at risk, six months out from their second shots.
“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,” Murthy said in a “Squawk Box” interview.
“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 also showed a strong immune response from a J&J booster dose, he also noted.
“We have good options now, we have flexibility in terms of which vaccines you get, and the boosters will extend and enhance peoples’ protection,” Murthy said. “So if you’re eligible, I would urge people to go out there and get that booster shot.”
The CDC is continuing to evaluate whether or not to require a booster dose of an approved Covid vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated, according to Murthy. “They may change that over time,” he said. “If that does change, then a booster may be part of the requirement, but for now, a booster is not part of what’s required to be fully vaccinated.”
Pfizer, whose vaccine is similar to Moderna’s, said internal data showed that a booster dose of its vaccine restored protection against severe disease from Covid back to more than 95%. J&J said a booster dose of its vaccine boosted antibody levels 12-fold if given six months after the initial dose.
Currently, more than 11 million booster doses have been administered in the U.S., according to CDC data. More than 9 million of the booster doses administered were from Pfizer after approval in late September.