CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More vaccine booster shots are now available for more people across the Carolinas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially endorsed booster shots for both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday. Pfizer previously received approval.
The CDC also endorsed the mixing and matching of vaccine boosters, meaning people can get a different kind of vaccine for their booster shot that does not match their initial vaccination.
Emanual Bagby, a 63-year-old Charlotte resident, said he got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March.
He said he got it, “to protect myself and my family and my friends. I mean, it was the right thing to do because anything you can do to prevent mortality, I think you should do it.”
He said he saw how quickly the delta variant was starting to spread over the summer. He spoke with his doctor and decided to get the Pfizer vaccine before it received approval as a booster and before any vaccine was endorsed to be mixed and matched.
Bagby said he got the first dose of Pfizer in July and the second dose weeks later.
"I've had no side effects from any of the shots,” Bagby said.
He added, “I mean, if I’m living proof that it works, I think I’d advise other people to try it.”
Doctors WCNC Charlotte spoke with reiterated that at this time the CDC has only endorsed one booster dose, regardless of a patient’s initial vaccine choice.
"Nobody really should be getting fourth, fifth, sixth, you know, multiple, multiple shots,” Dr. Katie Passaretti, Atrium Health vice president, enterprise chief epidemiologist, said. “It really is the initial series. One additional dose of whatever type, and that's where we are right now. Future will tell about whether we need annual shots or further boosters.”
The CDC did not endorse a particular mix and match combo. However, according to evidence from a National Institutes of Health study, a booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after initially receiving Johnson & Johnson raises antibody levels.
"The CDC by no means, nor are we recommending or saying people should get a Pfizer or a Moderna vaccine after Johnson & Johnson, or they should get this type of vaccine,” Dr. Meg Sullivan, Mecklenburg County Public Health Medical Director, said. “Just know that it is an option, and there is kind of limited evidence that does suggest that."
Passaretti with Atrium Health said in addition to the research that mixing and matching boosters could raise antibody levels, she might recommend a patient switch to a different kind of vaccine for their booster if the patient had an adverse or allergic reaction to their initial vaccine.
Bagby said he hasn’t gotten COVID-19 and feels even more protected with the additional doses.
He wrote a letter to the community about why he made the choice saying in part, “This is not a debate about educational ignorance, Black or white, democrat or republican, or at least it never should have been. This is about doing whatever is necessary to be able to go out in public once again without a mask, without criticism, whether it’s a word or a strange look, without controversy over a public health crisis. This is about doing whatever it takes to get back to normal, whatever that is or will become. This is about taking care of yourself, your family, your friends, and others in our community.”
Bagby said he hopes in sharing his story and experience he shows that he is living proof of the vaccine at work.