The UK government announced its relaxed Covid travel rules on Friday with the main change being that vaccinated travellers from Europe to England would no longer need to take pre-departure tests, and can use cheaper lateral flow (antigen) tests for their ‘Day 2’ test after arriving.
Unvaccinated travellers from Europe would still need to quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure test as well as PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 after arrival.
The changes come into force from October 4th.
However while the announcement spelled good news for most travellers who had been vaccinated in Europe, the UK did not announce any change to is rule that those who have had Covid and one dose of a vaccine are not considered “fully vaccinated” for the purposes of travel to the UK.
It also wasn’t clear whether those who have had mixed Covid vaccines would still face quarantine, despite being fully jabbed.
The UK’s Department of Health and Social care confirmed to The Local that there was no change to the current policy or relaxation of rules regarding those who had received mixed vaccine doses in Europe.
So as it stands anyone who had one dose of Astra Zeneca and then a dose of Pfizer or Moderna in a European country is not considered fully vaccinated by the UK government.
The current rules are:
- If you were vaccinated with a 2 dose vaccine (such as Moderna or Pfizer) you must have had both doses to be considered fully vaccinated. Each dose 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.
- Those who have had COVID-19 and have only had one dose of a 2 dose vaccine must follow the rules for unvaccinated arrivals.
However the British embassy in both Germany and France have said that from October 4th the UK will accept those fully vaccinated with mixed doses.
“From 4 October travellers who have had a mix of eligible 2 dose vaccines (e.g. a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNtech) will be recognised as fully vaccinated,” says the British embassy.
We have asked the UK’s Department of Health to clear up the confusion once again.
In several European countries mixing of vaccines has been quite widespread, particularly for those who had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before guidelines on its use in individual countries changed.
Many countries (including the UK) now advise not using AstraZeneca for younger people after concerns over the risk of rare blood clots. Younger people who already had AstraZeneca for their first dose were advised by many countries’ health regulators to take Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.
There is no credible medical evidence that individuals who had two different brands of Covid vaccine are less protected against the virus, in fact some studies have suggested better protection from mixing and matching doses.
The UK’s current rules on mixed vaccines have caused anger to the thousands of vaccinated travellers who still cannot visit the UK without having to quarantine and take expensive tests.
One reader told The Local: “My partner, a British national with mixed vaccines, feels like a second class citizen and hasn’t seen her family since December 2019.”
These rules at present affect only arrivals in England, the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so far not indicated a change to their definitions.