Mixing coronavirus vaccines is not recommended, Public Health England warns

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is set to be distributed in the UK from next week, following the launch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is set to be distributed in the UK from next week, following the launch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is set to be distributed in the UK from next week, following the launch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December

Public Health England (PHE) has said it does not recommend mixing the two different Covid-19 vaccines currently available.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is set to be distributed in the UK from next week, following the launch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December. Both require two doses. 

The caution from PHE comes after the UK government issued guidance to NHS health care workers on 31 December which stated that if a person goes back for their second dose of either vaccine, but the same type isn’t available, then it is “reasonable” to offer a dose of another vaccine. 

The government added “This option is preferred if the individual is likely to be at immediate high risk or is considered unlikely to attend again,” the guidance adds.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at PHE, responded firmly when questions were raised about the government’s guidance and the consequence of mixing vaccines.

“We do not recommend mixing the COVID-19 vaccines - if your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine you should not be given the AstraZeneca vaccine for your second dose and vice versa,” she said.

“There may be extremely rare occasions where the same vaccine is not available, or where it is not known what vaccine the patient received.

“Every effort should be made to give them the same vaccine, but where this is not possible it is better to give a second dose of another vaccine than not at all.”

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