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The benefits of mix-and-match COVID-19 boosters

Feet wearing mismatched but complementary socks.

Nov. 2, 2021—Do you qualify to receive a booster shot for COVID-19? If so, you now have the option to "mix and match" when choosing a booster vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). But what are the benefits? Here are the answers to some common questions about choosing a mix-and-match booster shot.

Q. Is mixing and matching better than getting the same type of shot again?

Early evidence shows that mix-and-match boosters may offer a greater increase in immunity. That's especially true for people who first received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to AARP. However, all three types of booster shot have been shown to be highly effective.

Q. What other benefits are there to getting a different booster shot?

A mix-and-match vaccine could also help slow the spread of COVID-19. Why? If you're more immune, it is less likely you will get sick or infect someone else. Less transmission also helps prevent new variants.

Q. Are there any disadvantages to mixing and matching boosters?

No. So far, researchers have not seen any disadvantages to mixing and matching boosters. Other countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, have also been allowing mix-and-match shots for several months.

Q. Will the side effects be different if I get a mix-and-match booster?

No. According to AARP, the side effects are similar, regardless of which shot you choose. These include a sore arm, headaches, muscle pain or fatigue.

Q. I haven't had a COVID-19 vaccine yet. Can I mix and match with my first round of shots?

No. When receiving your first series of shots, you should stick to the same type. The initial Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose. If you choose the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, you will receive two doses. All three vaccines are safe and highly effective, according to CDC.

Find out more about COVID-19 and booster shots in our Coronavirus health topic center.

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