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Health district says Moderna, J&J booster shots available

The Southern Nevada Health District announced Tuesday that booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson &Johnson vaccine, in addition to the Pfizer vaccine, are available at its clinics for those who are eligible.

People who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine can receive a booster shot at least six months after their second dose. People who are eligible include those 65 and older, 18 and older in long-term care settings, or with any of a long list of underlying conditions such as diabetes. It also includes those who work or live in a setting that puts them at higher risk, based on individuals’ assessment of their own risk.

Health authorities recommend boosters for everyone who received a dose of Johnson &Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, regardless of age or other risk factors.

“We know the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting people from severe illness, hospitalizations and death,” Dr. Fermin Leguen, health officer for the health district, said in a news release. “However, because the protection offered by the vaccines may wane over time, it is important that everyone, especially people who are more vulnerable to developing complications, get a booster dose.”

Booster shots also are widely available at Las Vegas Valley pharmacies.

The health district’s announcement comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration authorizing the booster shots of the Moderna and J&J vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending who should receive them. Federal regulators previously had approved boosters shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

Eligible people may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services noted in a technical bulletin to health care providers.

“Some people may prefer the type they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster,” the bulletin states. “CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.”

Federal regulators did not recommend that people get a different type of vaccine than they originally received. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said on “Meet the Press” Sunday that she thought it likely that most people would want to receive the same vaccine.

However, some authorities say there can be benefits from mixing and matching.

Getting a booster shot of one of the mRNA vaccines, either Pfizer or Moderna, may provide a greater immune response than a second dose of J&J vaccine, said Brian Labus, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UNLV School of Public Health.

“The second dose of the mRNA (vaccine) will give you an immune response that’s stronger,” he said.

The mRNA vaccines have been shown to stimulate a stronger response from the immune system, though all three vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious disease.

Another reason for mixing and matching is convenience. A particular vaccination site might not carry all types of vaccine.

“Basically, if you got the mRNA vaccine, generally you should stay with the mRNA vaccine” of either brand rather than getting a booster dose of J&J vaccine, he said.

Health district and community clinic sites can be found at snhd.info/covid-vaccine.

More information about vaccination site locations can be found at nvcovidfighter.org.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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