The UK government has updated its travel rules for England to say that people arriving who have had doses of two different Covid vaccines are not considered fully vaccinated. It means they will not be able to skip quarantine if travelling from amber countries such as France.
The UK added the clarification to its website on August 10 (you can search the word “Moderna” using Control + F on the page to find the section easily). This site applies to England; the other nations of the UK usually follow the same rules, but their travel information sites do not mention the rule today.
France, by contrast, considers a person fully vaccinated if they have had two doses of different vaccine types and it is not unusual in France for people to have been vaccinated with different Covid vaccine types.
This is especially the case as the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was initially offered to everyone before being limited to only those aged over 55.
It meant that some people in France got a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of another vaccine, most commonly Pfizer-BioNTech.
One British Connexion reader, who highlighted the issue saying that he and his wife were vaccinated with two different types of Covid vaccine, said:
“We seem to be back to square one in trying to plan a visit to the UK without quarantine.”
Now if the couple wish to travel to England from France, they will be treated as if they are unvaccinated, and will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the UK, and pay for two Covid-19 tests to be taken during the quarantine.
People considered fully vaccinated can travel to the UK from France without the need to quarantine, and only pay for one Covid-19 test on arrival.
The UK government website was updated on August 10 to clarify that in order to be considered fully vaccinated with a Covid vaccine type that requires two 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 website states.
This was confirmed to The Connexion today (August 13) by a spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Transport. The rule applies to everyone, not just people in France.
He said he did not know of a solution for people in this situation and said it was a question for French health authorities.
The Connexion has contacted France’s health ministry about this issue and is awaiting response.
It comes despite a Public Health England report on the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, published August 6, 2021, stating that “evidence from trials suggest that those who receive mixed [Covid vaccine] schedules, including mRNA and adenovirus vectored vaccines, make a good immune response”.
The report highlights concerns over an increased rate of side effects in patients who received mixed doses, but does not suggest a mixed-dose schedule is less effective than being vaccinated with two doses of the same vaccine.
The UK only dropped quarantine-on-arrival rules for fully vaccinated travellers from France on August 8, just short of three weeks after dropping the rule for vaccinated travellers from all other EU countries.
The UK said this measure was maintained due to concerns of the Beta variant of Covid-19 in France.
This latest complication comes just a few days after another discrepancy in travel rules between France and the UK was highlighted and resolved.
France considers a person fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after one dose of any approved vaccine if they have had Covid within the past six months. The UK does not consider this person fully vaccinated.
This led to concern from people in France hoping to visit the UK without quarantining.
However, on August 9, France’s health ministry confirmed to The Connexion that people who have only had one dose of a vaccine would be allowed a second dose to facilitate international travel.