November 2021

Face to Face: Vaccine Boosters, Mix & Match

November 5, 2021    |  

“Today, we have reached a turning point in our battle against COVID-19.” Those were the words of President Joe Biden on Nov. 2, right after the announcement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had given the go-ahead for the Pfizer/BioNtech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, clearing the way for 28 million U.S. children to be vaccinated.

That news came just two days before Kirsten Lyke, MD, professor in the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and a researcher in UMSOM’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, appeared as the guest expert alongside UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, on Virtual Face to Face with President Bruce Jarrell.

Lyke had originally been featured on the program to talk about her National Institutes of Health-supported research on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and so-called “mixing and matching” — giving a patient a booster shot with a vaccine different from the one originally administered. In the simplest terms, her research showed that no matter what the combination, receiving a booster of a different type did raise the level of COVID-19 antibodies and did not result in any significant side effects, although the durability of vaccine effectiveness was not measured.

Her work opened new possibilities and also new questions about side effects, timing, and ethics. But the Face to Face audience had even more questions about several other pandemic developments, such as concerns about side effects such as triggering a shingles infection or inducing premature labor; the safety of giving a COVID-19 vaccine to children with brain seizure disorders of Down syndrome; and newly reported variants, such as the so-called “Delta Plus” variant, which has already been detected in Maryland.

Lyke was able to oblige the audience on a wide array of COVID-19 vaccine questions, including details of her “mix and match” study findings. Watch the entire program by accessing the link at the top of the page.