Can you mix Covid-19 vaccine booster shots?

The Claim: Can you mix Covid-19 vaccine booster shots?
The Verdict: claim verdict

In December 2021, the Zimbabwe government announced that it was rolling out Covid-19 booster shots following the detection of the Omicron variant in the country.

As of 5 May 2022, 617 635 booster shots vaccines have been administered in the country.

However, there have been questions on whether people should stick to the same type of vaccine or if they can mix it with other Covid-19 vaccines.

“Recent studies have focused on the “mix and match” approach to Covid-19 booster shots. The idea of using one type of vaccine for the first dose or two and then receiving a booster shot made by a different company has been talked about over the last two years. However, recent data has led a number of health bodies, including the WHO, to endorse the use of mixed vaccines and mixed boosters in people, meaning that someone can get a booster that is a different type of brand than their original shot, and can also mix shots for a first dose depending on the vaccines available,” said Health Desk Experts.

The  Experts said World Health Organization (WHO) stance is that people should take whichever vaccine is made available to them first and that it is safe and effective to mix-and-match different Covid-19 vaccines.

They added that mixing booster shots can help enhance the immune system’s response to the Covid-29 virus.

“Scientists believe mixing boosters could actually help enhance the immune system’s response to the Covid-19 virus and potentially obtain more protection against severe symptoms, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of infection. Several countries have also been allowing residents to mix shots for their initial Covid-19 vaccines in addition to boosters,” the Health Desk Experts said.

“ The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “It is safe for you to receive two different Covid-19 vaccines for your first and second dose…WHO considers two doses of any WHO emergency use listings Covid-19 vaccines to be a complete primary series.”

In addition, the Health Desk Experts said mixing tested and approved vaccine combinations may help ease supply chain pressures, boost immune system responses, give broader herd immunity, reduce the emergence of new variants, and produce stronger and longer-lasting protection.

“Mixing vaccines from different manufacturers for specific diseases has been done in the past for influenza, hepatitis A, and other illnesses, but it started with HIV research. Sometimes this option must be taken due to limited supplies, manufacturing delays, recent data about side effects that need to be investigated, and other reasons. One example is Johnson & Johnson’s Ebola vaccine which uses a mixed-dose approach by administering an adenovirus vaccine in the first dose and a poxvirus vector vaccine in the second,” the organisation said. 

However, the Health Desk Experts warned that there are more than ten Covid-19 vaccines being used around the globe now and 1.2 million doses have already been administered, but not all have been approved by the WHO and they may be unsafe to mix unless national health agencies have given guidance about specific combinations.

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