Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Recommends Moderna, Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Booster Shots, Approves Mix-and-Match Booster Shots

Booster recommended for Moderna recipients who are 65 and older and 18+ recipients who are residing in long-term care facilities, have underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk of social inequities, or who live or work in high-risk settings

Booster recommended for all people 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

SACRAMENTO – The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup today completed its review of the federal process and has recommended a booster dose for recipients of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Recipients of the Moderna vaccine may receive a booster shot six months after completing their primary vaccination series, and recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may receive a booster shot two months after receiving their first dose.

The Workgroup also approved the “mix-and-match” strategy, endorsed by the FDA and CDC. This allows anyone qualifying for a booster to receive any of the FDA-approved vaccines. Individuals may receive either the same or a different COVID-19 vaccine, depending on advice from a health care provider, individual preference, availability or convenience. The Workgroup provided its confirmation to the Governors of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington today.

The Workgroup recommended the following groups of people who received the Moderna vaccine should receive a booster dose after at least six months:

  • People 65 years of age and older,
  • People 18 years of age and older residing in a long-term care facility, or
  • People 50 through 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions or at increased risk of social inequities.

The Workgroup recommended that all individuals 18 years of age or older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a booster dose two months after their first shot.

In addition, the Workgroup recommended that the following groups who received the Moderna vaccine may also receive a booster dose after six months:

  • People 18 through 49 years of age with underlying medical conditions or at increased risk of social inequities, or
  • People 18 years of age or older who are at risk for SARS-CoV-2 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.

The Workgroup strongly endorsed the CDC’s recognition that long-standing health and social inequities have increased the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and again recommended that social determinants of vulnerability be included in the assessment of medical conditions that qualify individuals for booster doses.

Because unvaccinated individuals remain at much higher risk of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals, the Workgroup also reiterated that its members strongly support vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone 12 years of age and older.

The Workgroup last month recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after their primary vaccination series for people older than 65 and those 18+ who have underlying medical conditions or are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, following action by the FDA and CDC.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices affirmed that decision on Thursday. The Workgroup reviewed and affirmed the federal decisions in meetings Thursday evening and Friday morning.

Washington, Oregon, and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup last year. The workgroup, made up of nationally-acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccines. It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.

Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom:

“California is leading the nation in vaccinations, with 52 million administered and 86 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose – today’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommendation on booster shots will help keep the momentum going as we enter the winter months. Through our investments in targeted outreach and robust community-based partnerships, our work continues to reach the hardest-hit communities. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic – I encourage all eligible Californians to visit MyTurn.ca.gov to schedule an appointment for their first dose or find a booster shot to keep themselves and their community healthy.”

Statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: 

“I am grateful to be one of the millions of Americans protected by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from COVID-19, severe illness, and hospitalization. Whether you received the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, everyone eligible who wants a booster will be able to get one and the extra layer of protection a booster dose provides. I’m committed to ensuring our most vulnerable Oregonians are protected from COVID-19, including those who are at higher risk due to systemic health and social inequities. Vaccination is our pathway out of this pandemic. If you still have questions about getting vaccinated, call your doctor or health care provider today to get your questions answered.”

Statement from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak:

“Through vaccination we will end this pandemic. We know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the review done by our Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup should give all Nevadans and residents of our sister states an added confidence in vaccination and the recommended booster dose. Thank you to my fellow governors and the experts who take the time to support public health through this workgroup. This guidance for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines is vital for our providers and many partners working to support their communities – we look forward to providing so many Nevadans an extra layer of protection through a booster.”

Statement from Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

“The COVID vaccines continue to offer very strong protection against severe illness and death and are saving lives every day. Now people who qualify to get a booster don’t have to be restricted to one brand of vaccine,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “They are able to get whichever is available to them and is best for them. This is a critical factor in finding our way out of this pandemic.”