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COVID-19 boosters: FDA panel to consider approval of Moderna, J&J shots

If approved, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 boosters will go to the FDA for final approval. The CDC would determine who gets the shot and when.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday to discuss whether the Moderna or single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters should be approved. 

The meeting between independent advisers to the FDA is the first stage in the process of deciding whether extra doses of the two vaccines will be distributed, and if so, who should get them and when. If approved by the panel, the FDA will make an official decision. Ultimately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make the final recommendation on who should get the shots. 

Currently, only Pfizer's vaccine booster is available for certain people, at least six months after their second dose. Eligible people include the elderly, first responders and other front-like workers and people who are at risk for severe illness. 

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Moderna released data urging the FDA to authorize a half-dose of its vaccine for a booster six months after a patient receives their second shot. 

Even with all this attention on boosters, the FDA's acting commissioner told NBC News the vaccines are working and their attention is still squarely on the unvaccinated. 

"It's more important than boosters," Janet Woodcock said. "Current vaccines are protecting most people from hospitalization and death, the really bad outcome."

The FDA panel will also consider the safety and effectiveness of mixing and matching different brands of vaccine, something regulators and health experts have not recommended so far. An estimated 103 million Americans have received Pfizer's vaccine, 69 million have gotten the Moderna vaccine and 15 million others received J&J's single-dose shot.   

Contact Richard DeVayne at rdevayne@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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