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Boosters approved for all three COVID vaccines

Pfizer and Moderna boosters are for at risk individuals; all Johnson & Johnson recipients are eligible for a second shot.

Booster doses have now been authorized for all three COVID-19 vaccines, and some people will have the option to mix and match their shots.

Booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna are both designated for at-risk groups: anyone 65 and older, and those younger than 65 who live in congregate care settings, have compromised immune systems, or who are at high risk for exposure because of their job.

People in those same groups are also now able to choose to get a different vaccine for their booster, in hopes of stimulating a better immune response.

SIU associate professor of chemistry Keith Gagnon said that works because each vaccine uses a different version of the spike protein to train the immune system. Mixing and matching, he said, could mean a person develops a wider array of antibodies that can fight COVID.

"They all stimulate the immune system in slightly different ways. So the idea that, hey, maybe by mix and match we'll get slightly better protection, and I think that's not unreasonable. It's almost really common sense when you think about it," he said.

Early data has shown that following a Johnson & Johnson shot with an mRNA vaccine created significantly more antibodies.

The CDC also authorized boosters for anyone over 18 who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To get a COVD-19 booster or initial vaccine, contact your healthcare provider, local health department or pharmacy.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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