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URMC to participate in mixed vaccine booster trial

Max Schulte

As more of the population becomes vaccinated against COVID-19 and variants emerge, the question of whether or not booster shots will be needed continues to surface.

The University of Rochester Medical Center is participating in a new nationwide clinical trial that will examine whether or not a booster shot is needed. The trial will also see if the body will create a more robust immune response if original vaccines are mixed with a booster from a different manufacturer .

Dr. David Dobrzynski, one of the co-leaders of the local trial, said that as the nation enters into a new phase of the pandemic, different vaccination strategies are important to help combat the evolution of the coronavirus.

“I think the tough thing is right now, we don't expect this virus to disappear magically, anytime soon; we expect it to kind of still be in circulation,” Dobryznski said. “So a lot of effort is being placed into vaccines.”

The study will enroll 500 volunteers nationwide ages 18 and older, including 50 from the Rochester area. Researchers are looking for both vaccinated and unvaccinated participants.

The unvaccinated will receive the Moderna vaccine series, and will later receive a Moderna variant booster. Those who have already completed a vaccine series will get a Moderna booster regardless of what their original vaccine was. 

Dr. Ann Falsey, another co-leader of the trial, said her trial team believes the mixing of vaccines will strengthen the body’s immune response to the COVID-19 virus, which will help future variants.

“This study is a critical step, and will show if doses from different vaccines are safe, tolerable, and sufficiently boost the immune system enough to fight off reinfection by SAR-CoV-2 and variants,” said Falsey.

For more information on how to enroll in this study and other vaccine studies visit , or call 585-273-3990.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.