Fully vaccinated Europeans who had a ‘mix and match’ schedule of COVID-19 vaccines won’t be allowed to travel quarantine-free to England under the latest rule change announced by government officials.
The restriction could potentially affect thousands of people who had an initial shot of the AstraZeneca shot and then an alternative jab from either Pfizer or Moderna. The change to dosing regimens was prompted by safety concerns concerning the Oxford University developed vaccine and the very rare risk of serious blood clots.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is probably one of the most high profile people known to have had a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine who rejected the same vaccine in favour of the Moderna vaccine for her second jab.
Under the new travel rules published by the British government, Merkel would be forced to self-isolate for 10-days and take two PCR tests despite being considered fully vaccinated in Germany.
The rule change could also affect travellers who had a ‘mix and match’ vaccine due to supply issues. This was notably the case in Canada and although Canadian travellers aren’t currently eligible for quarantine-free travel to the UK, some Canadian tourists have already encountered issues getting into other countries that restrict the meaning of ‘fully vaccinated to two doses of the same vaccine (or a single shot of the J&J Janssen vaccine).
This could potentially become a big issue as more and more countries start easing travel restrictions for what they consider to be a fully vaccinated traveller. There’s also the potential for even more confusion as booster jabs start getting approved.
The latest guidance from the UK government states: “Fully vaccinated means you must have had a final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 whole days before you arrive in England. If you were vaccinated in 2 doses it must be with the same (MHRA, EMA, Swissmedic or FDA) approved vaccine. For example, if your first dose was Moderna your second dose must also be Moderna.”
The restriction was put in place despite a recent Oxford University-led study that concluded that mixing matching two different types of COVID-19 vaccine still generates a strong immune response.
However, the European Medicines Agency hasn’t made a definitive recommendation on mix and match vaccines citing a lack of data. The agency does, however, say that preliminary results from European countries that are mixing and matching have shown “satisfactory immune response with this approach, and no safety concerns.”
Mixing and matching is not currently approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the UK’s National Health Service.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.