More vaccines, more questions: Can you mix different vaccines?

COVID-19 Vaccine

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — With Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine added to the list of available vaccines, local experts explain what could happen if you received two different vaccine brands and how effective they are against the variants.

Dr. Armando Meza, chief of infectious diseases at Texas Tech University Health and Sciences Center of El Paso, explained different vaccine brands shouldn’t be mixed.

He said that when you receive the first dose of the vaccine, you should continue with the second dose of the same brand of vaccine, but in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will need only one dose.

He explained that all three vaccines are quite similar, but still do have differences in their structure.

He said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended to choose only one brand because there is no data available on what happens if we mix them. To prevent unwanted side effects, he said the vaccine should be administered as prescribed.

“I think that the last thing you want to get is getting two vaccines and not knowing which one you were allergic to and to which you had the most side effects,” said Dr. Meza, also referring to people who are more prone to having side effects and allergic reactions.

With the existing variants of COVID-19 in the world, he said, so far, there is no evidence that the available vaccines are any less effective to fight those variants.

However, he said, the CDC is on a lookout.

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, public health professor at New Mexico State University, said that in case of new emerging variants, the existing vaccines we have would be easier to redevelop because of the new technology used to create them.

“In previous vaccines, we used to kill the viruses and then inject them into people, now what we have taken is parts of the virus, redeveloped them and manipulated them,” explained Dr. Khubchandani, adding these particles are RNAs that can be “reprogrammed easily.”

He said if the vaccines needed redevelopment, it would be a matter of months before they are ready.

Meza said with the emergence of a new vaccine, we could be seeing a shorter wait before we go back to the so-called “new normal,” however, now is not the time to let our guards down.

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