UPMC Leaders Discuss Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters

By: Edward DeWitt

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisory panel voted to recommend both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination third dose booster shots.

The FDA now recommends a Moderna booster for individuals meeting the following criteria at least six months after their second dose:

• Adults 65 and up
• People in long-term care facilities
• Adults 18-64 with underlying medical conditions
• Adults 18-64 who are at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus in their workplace

The Johnson & Johnson booster has been recommended for all individuals 18 and up at least two months after their first dose.

“Vaccines are an extremely important part in the battle against COVID-19. The vaccines are safe and work remarkably well,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, the UPMC chief medical officer. “The boosters offer the body another chance to build upon the response it had either from a previous vaccine, or from recovering from COVID-19. For the vast majority of these people, it reinforces the immunity you have rather than adding new protection.”

“While boosters are an important next step for many people, getting vaccinated period – along with masking and social distancing – remain the best tools in fighting the pandemic,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.

“The most important job in immunization right now is to get those who have decided not to be fully vaccinated to choose to do so,” Dr. Yealy add. “Addressing that gap is more important than booster doses for most of the population who has already chosen to be vaccinated.”

UPMC is preparing to make any authorized booster available pending the FDA and CDC final determination. “We’ll be ready to administer these vaccines as soon as the FDA authorizes and the Center for Disease Control provides guidance,” Dr. Snyder said.

“You are making one of the safest bets of your life by making the choice to be vaccinated,” Dr. Yealy said.

Throughout the pandemic, UPMC has sought to have the appropriate policies, procedures, research and the implementation of that research to care for our patients and provide advice. For more information, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com.