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Are People With SMA Eligible for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Booster Shots?

Posted on October 26, 2021
Article written by
Alison Channon

  • People with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) may be eligible for additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, depending on personal health factors.
  • All adults who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster shot regardless of health status.
  • Health agencies have also approved “mix and match” boosters, meaning a person may receive initial doses of one type of COVID-19 vaccine and a booster of another.

The Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC) released recommendations for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination boosters on Oct. 21. Based on the new recommendations, adults with SMA who received the Moderna vaccine may be eligible for a booster depending on personal factors. All adults who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible, regardless of health status or other factors. Additionally, the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved mix and match booster doses, which allow people to receive initial doses of one type of COVID-19 vaccine and a booster of another.

Booster Shot Eligibility

A COVID-19 vaccine booster is administered when someone developed adequate immunity after the initial vaccine dose or doses, but that immunity has decreased over time. The following groups are now eligible for a booster shot at least six months after their second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:

  • People over 65
  • People over 18 who have underlying medical conditions
  • People over 18 who live in long-term care facilities
  • People over 18 who live or work in high-risk settings (such as front-line workers or people who are incarcerated)

The FDA and CDC approved booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for the same groups in September.

All adults over 18 who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at least two months after receiving their shot.

The CDC recommendations were released after the FDA amended the emergency use authorizations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to allow for booster doses.

Mix and Match Doses

The FDA authorized mix and match booster doses for the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States. This means that you can receive a booster dose of a different vaccine from your original vaccine. For example, any adult over 18 who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a booster dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines at least two months after receiving their shot. Those who have received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and are eligible for a booster could receive it from any of the three companies six months after their second dose.

Additional Doses for People With SMA

People with SMA who are considered immunocompromised may be eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines 28 days following their second dose. These additional doses may be recommended for those who did not develop an adequate immune response after the two-dose vaccination series.

The FDA amended the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines’ emergency use authorizations on Aug. 12 to allow a third vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised individuals. Individuals defined as immunocompromised include:

  • People taking high-dose steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs
  • People in cancer treatment
  • People who received a stem cell transplant in the last two years
  • People who are organ donor recipients and taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Those with certain other health conditions

If someone with SMA is not considered immunocompromised based on their medications or other health factors, they may be eligible for a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccine — depending on their age and other health conditions.

The CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions that would make someone eligible for a Moderna or Pfizer booster six months after their second dose doesn’t explicitly list SMA as a condition that may qualify someone for a booster shot. The list of underlying medical conditions includes chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, smoking or smoking history, and HIV infection, as well as several other conditions.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Alison Channon has nearly a decade of experience writing about chronic health conditions, mental health, and women's health. Learn more about her here.

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