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Uganda okays having second Covid shot from a different brand

Thursday July 15 2021
Covid-19 vaccine.

A health worker administers Covid-19 vaccine. Uganda’s Ministry of Health has said those who fail to get the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to take the Pfizer vaccine. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By DAILY MONITOR

Uganda’s Ministry of Health has said those who fail to get the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to take the Pfizer vaccine and vice versa so as to be fully vaccinated.   

These are the only brands that can be mixed, the ministry said. 

“You can get your second dose as AstraZeneca or Pfizer. If you got AstraZeneca first as dose one and there is no AstraZeneca for your second dose you can get Pfizer,” Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director for General Duties at the ministry, said on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on vaccines said in June that the Pfizer vaccine could be used as a second dose after an initial dose of AstraZeneca, if the latter is not available.

However, the WHO warned against individuals mixing various vaccines, saying the decision should be left to public health authorities.

Dr Mwebesa also said that the Chinese vaccine, Sinovac, cannot be mixed with others, while the Johnson & Johnson will be administered as a single shot. 

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Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Health ministry’s spokesperson, told the media early this week that Uganda would receive a donation of 647,010 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month. The vaccines are expected to arrive between July 21 and July 27.

This is the first time that the country will have different brands of Covid-19 vaccines as the world moves to understand the concept of mixing and matching vaccines.

In its pilot rollout of the vaccination drive in March, Uganda’s Health ministry decided to give only one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to cover as many people in the target categories as possible, until more vaccines were acquired. 

The initial stock of 964,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax initiative and the Indian government were exhausted.

In June, an additional 175,200 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines shipped in from France.

Dr Mwebesa said the ministry will prioritise giving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but the guidelines could be revised as more vaccines come in. 

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