ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Minnesota providers can begin administering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shots to eligible residents, Gov. Tim Walz announced on Friday, Oct. 22.
The expansion does not create more categories of those eligible, a list including those 6 months from their last dose who are over 17 and have health conditions, are over 65, live in group settings or are front-line workers.
But it does allow recipients of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to join a booster-eligible population who had received the Pfizer vaccine. The expansion also allows a so-called "mix-and-match" approach in which recipients may receive a booster of a vaccine separate from that they received initially.
All Minnesotans age 18 and older who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are recommended to get a booster shot at least 2 months after their initial vaccine.
Recipients of a Moderna booster will receive a half dose.
The news comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration set the change in motion, and one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its recommendation for boosters beyond those previously authorized.
“Federal authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster doses means more Minnesotans will be able to maximize their protection against COVID-19,” Walz said in a statement.
“As a Johnson & Johnson recipient myself, I am excited to be able to get boosted protection against this virus, especially as the weather gets colder, the holidays approach, and more of our interactions and activities move indoors. Minnesotans who are recommended to get a booster should roll up their sleeves and get their shot.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Oct. 21., CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said, “These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19."
Boosters are known to raise antibody levels, but the ability of COVID-19 boosters to reduce illness in controlled trials was only demonstrated recently when a company-reported trial of Pfizer boosters found a reduction of cases, reducing infections by just over 100 in 10,000 recipients, with no data on hospitalizations or a reduction in deaths.
Recipients of COVID-19 vaccine have other immune system weapons against the virus -- B and T cells -- besides antibody levels raised by boosters. Minnesotans should get a booster no earlier than when it is recommended, state officials stress, in order to get the most time of their three doses.
State officials say they "have enough vaccine to provide shots to everyone who needs one – both primary series doses and boosters." Providers include pharmacies, health care systems, community clinics, local public health agencies, and tribal health agencies. Those seeking a booster shot can visit mn.gov/vaccine to find a provider near them to schedule an appointment or find a walk-in clinic.
”It is also incredibly important for all those who have not been vaccinated yet to get that initial protection," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. "The more eligible people in our communities who are vaccinated, the more protection we have for young children and others not able to get vaccinated yet.”