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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

COVID-19 boosters are now available for many adults who want one.

  • But the various combinations of who should get one and when now that mixing and matching shots got the OK just made the process much more complex.

Why it matters: The CDC has yet to issue final clinical guidance but the panel's discussions and interim clinical considerations last week show picking whatever shot they want leaves room for confusion.

State of play: The agency's independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices indicated a preference for asking people to stay with their original brand for the booster.

  • But they ultimately voted to leave it up to patients to speak with their provider on whether to get a different vaccine for their booster shot.
  • That offers more flexibility and could help minimize risk for those concerned of the rare adverse effects such as the treatable myocarditis and pericarditis in young men after Pfizer or Moderna's mRNA shots and rare, but serious blood clots in young women after J&J's adenovirus vaccines, they said.
  • "The reality is [patients aren't] consulting with their physicians in all cases, they’re just going out and getting booster doses," said ACIP panel member and affiliate assistant professor of Clinical Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University Jason Goldman.
  • "I worry if [guidance is] too prescriptive or if it's too wordy, we’re either going to miss the ability to give people boosters who really should be getting it or people who are just doing it anyway and not necessarily having the support in the language to do it," he added.

The big picture: In an effort to clear up the messaging, top health officials went on the media circuit to offer guidance.

  • Both White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Friday said people should stick with the vaccine they got first if it is available, Reuters reports.
  • But both Fauci and CDC director Rochelle Walensky said on Sunday news shows that it's safe to mix-and-match brands depending on the particular patient.

Go deeper

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Omicron variant lifts Moderna's stock price — CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: Federal court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states — NYC urges masks indoors "at all times" regardless of vaccination status — New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Nov 26, 2021 - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID-19 strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.