COVID News: NIH says Moderna's booster most effective mix with J&J first dose

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Food and Drug Administration is wrestling with whether and when to offer another dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, while a new study raises the prospect that using a different brand as the booster might work better.

In an online review, FDA scientists didn't reach a firm conclusion about whether there's enough evidence for J&J boosters, citing shortcomings with the company's data and little information on protection against the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

The review came ahead of meetings Thursday and Friday when an FDA advisory panel recommended booster doses of the Moderna vaccine. Another vote on Johnson & Johnson is expected.

Adding to the complexity is whether it's OK to use a booster that's a different brand than someone's initial shots. Preliminary results of a U.S. government study suggest that mixing and matching boosters will work at least as well - and maybe far better for J&J recipients. Those people had a stronger immune response if they got either a Moderna or Pfizer shot as their booster than if they received another dose of the J&J vaccine, according to results posted online Wednesday. Mix-and-match is also up for discussion by the FDA panel this week.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



NYC teachers battle COVID vaccine mandate in court, health care fight delayed
A lawyer representing teachers against mandatory vaccinations told a three-judge appellate court that they should not be forced from their classrooms, this as the health care worker fighting their mandate had their case adjourned for nearly two weeks. Louis Gelormino represents teacher and lead plaintiff teacher Rachel Maniscalco and others.

"I'm not anti-vax," he said. "Most of the teachers are not anti-vax. They are anti-mandate...All we are asking for is a choice, a very simple choice."

Nets' Kryie Irving doing 'what's best for me' with COVID vaccine refusal
Kyrie Irving said Wednesday he didn't want to lose salary or a chance to compete for a championship with the Brooklyn Nets, but was doing "what's best for me" by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Nets decided Tuesday that Irving wouldn't be with the team because he isn't eligible to play in home games, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on one of the city's teams to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues. Speaking on Instagram Live, Irving said he loved basketball and wasn't going to retire.

"I am doing what's best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I'm judged and demonized for that, that's just what it is," Irving said. "That's the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate."

Oregon temporarily drops college degree requirement for substitute teachers amid shortage
Hoping to help curb what officials are calling an "extraordinary shortage" of substitute teachers across the state, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission announced a new rule temporarily dropping the bachelor's degree requirement to become licensed in some cases. The temporary rule, which is set to expire March 31, allows substitute teacher applicants without a bachelor's degree to be sponsored by a school district, which would also provide them with enhanced support and administrative supervision, according to a joint statement from Dr. Anthony Rosilez, the commission's executive director, and Erika Bare, the commission chair. The license would only allow individuals to work for the district that sponsored them and would only be valid for the remainder of the school year, or six months, whichever is later.

Biden stresses need to vaccinate rest of America as he touts progress against COVID
President Joe Biden on Thursday stressed the need to vaccinate the 66 million Americans who have not received their Covid-19 vaccination shots as he touted falling case numbers across the nation. During brief remarks from the White House, Biden argued that vaccine requirements, which he has promoted for weeks, have been effective.

"Now is not the time to let up. We have a lot more to do. We're in a very critical period as we work to turn the corner on Covid-19," Biden said, speaking from the White House.

6 million vaccinated in NYC
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 6 million people have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine in New York City. He called it a milestone day.

"We're now one of the safest city in terms of COVID in the country," he said.

Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail
From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company's COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules' constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren't observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don't expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.

What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out
With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.
While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions -- a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.

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