UK changes travel rules again to impose quarantine on European arrivals who had mixed vaccine doses

Angela Merkel is not fully vaccinated, according to British rules. Photo: Christian Mang/AFP
The UK government has changed its travel rules to demand that fully vaccinated arrivals in England must quarantine if they had two different vaccine doses - a practice common across Europe and taken up by thousands including German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The UK government’s travel rules say that arrivals from amber list countries (which includes the whole of Europe after France was reclassified from ‘amber plus’) no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

However an addition to the rules on August 12th shattered dreams of quarantine free travel for many, by adding an amendment stating that to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by UK rules, travellers must have had two vaccines of the same brand.

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.

This covers tens of thousands of people including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French health minister Olivier Véran.

When we asked the British Department for Health and Social Care, we were told that people vaccinated with a mixed dose in the UK count as fully vaccinated, but those vaccinated in this way in other countries do not – however the rules as listed on the uk.gov website make no mention of an exception for people vaccinated in the UK.

A DHSC spokesman said: “People who have received two different doses of a vaccine under the UK government vaccination programme can still be certified as fully vaccinated through the COVID pass. We are working as quickly as possible to determine which other countries’ vaccines and certification solutions we would be confident to recognise.”

French Health Minister Olivier Véran was vaccinated with a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second of Moderna. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

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 ‘clarification’ of vaccine rules comes after a similar update saying that people who had received only a single dose of the vaccine after recovering from Covid – which is the standard practice in France – are also not considered fully vaccinated in the UK.

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.

Arrivals into the UK not considered fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days (which can be done at a location of your choice) and pay for travel tests on Day 2 and Day 8 after arrival.

Fully vaccinated arrivals do not need to quarantine, but must still pay for the Day 2 test.

READ ALSO How to book that Day 2 test if you are travelling to the UK

All arrivals need to fill in a passenger locator form, and the form cannot be completed without a booking reference for tests, so the tests need to be booked and paid for before departure.

Under the UK rules, arrivals are considered fully vaccinated if;

  • They have been vaccinated with vaccines approved by the UK regulator – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen)
  • They have been vaccinated with two doses of the same vaccine
  • They are 14 days after the final dose

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