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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Can I take the Pfizer dose first and a different Covid-19 vaccine for my second dose?

01 September 2021 - 07:00 By unathi nkanjeni
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases recommends taking two doses from the same vaccine provider. File photo.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases recommends taking two doses from the same vaccine provider. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Sergy Chayko

At this time, the “mixing and matching” of Covid-19 vaccines is not recommended in SA. 

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the national health laboratory service, recommends taking two doses from the same vaccine provider. 

For example, if you receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for the first dose, make sure to receive the same vaccine for the second dose. It is important to stick with one vaccine from one provider. 

Those who have received their first dose are advised to save their vaccine card with the name of the Covid-19 vaccine they receive for when they get the second dose. 

If you receive the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine, which is a single-dose vaccine, you do not need to return for a second dose. 

After the single dose of the J&J vaccine you will be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

What about abroad? 

According to several reports, Japan and Saudi Arabia were considering mixing AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 shots with those developed by other companies to speed their vaccination efforts.

Japan Times reported that the minister in charge of the country’s rollout said since AstraZeneca recommends eight weeks between its two shots, it was likely that time could be shortened if combined with Pfizer or Moderna. 

It is not clear which combination could give the best protection that will last the longest. 

Arab News reported that the Saudi ministry of health spokesperson Dr Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said mixing and matching of the approved vaccines has proved to be safe to administer for beneficiaries in that country. 

What does the WHO say? 

Earlier this year, World Health Organisation (WHO) scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan advised against mixing and matching vaccines from different manufacturers. 

Swaminathan said the practice was a “dangerous trend” and could cause worse side-effects. 

“Individuals should not decide for themselves. Public health agencies can and based on available data. Data from mix and match studies of different vaccines are awaited as immunogenicity and safety need to be evaluated,” she said