Ever since Zimbabwe launched its national Covid-19 vaccination program on 22 February 2021, some questions have arisen whether people can administer other vaccines in between taking the Covid-19 vaccine.
Other vaccines that are administered in the country include yellow fever vaccine, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A, as well as vaccinations for typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.
CITE reached out to health experts to verify whether it is safe to administer different vaccines at the same time.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda said people can take other vaccines although it is recommended that they take them apart.
“Yes, they can receive other vaccines, remember we are dealing mostly with the adult population,” said Dr Sibanda.
“They can receive cholera or yellow fever vaccine although it is recommended that they take them apart,” he said
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive Professor Solwayo Ngwenya also added that, “we want to space them out, you cannot bombard your body with a lot of vaccines, to react at the same time. We prefer that you finish one course at a time,” he said.
Meanwhile, information gathered on Health Desk Expert also said it is safe to administer Covid-19 vaccine the same day as other vaccines although in different injection sites.
“It is safe to administer COVID-19 vaccines the same day as other vaccines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed guidance that previously suggested people wait two weeks after their final COVID-19 vaccine before getting any other shots,” said the experts.
The experts said the reasons for the earlier policy was out of an abundance of caution and not due to any known safety or immunogenicity concerns. (Immunogenicity measures how well a vaccine can cause an immune response against a virus or other pathogen).
The Health Desk experts added that it is however recommended that the different vaccines need to be administered in different injection sites.
“Now that scientists have collected and analyzed more data the organization has changed its stance, but recommends that health care providers administer different vaccines in different injection sites. If a person gets a Covid-19 shot in their upper left arm for example, they should get any other vaccine in their right upper left arm, or at least one inch away from the COVID-19 injection site,” they said.
“Vaccines that are likely to cause a local reaction like soreness, rashes, or itching should be given in different limbs, according to recommendations. Covid-19 vaccines fall into this category, and so do the Bacille Calmette-Guerin tuberculosis (BCG) and Pertussis vaccines,”
However, the experts added that they are not sure whether Covid-19 vaccine side effects will be worse when given at the same time as other vaccines.
“At this time, we don’t know whether COVID-19 vaccine side effects will be worse when they’re given at the same time as other vaccines, especially ones with live virus or adjuvants (vaccine ingredients that help enhance the body’s immune response to a virus or pathogen).
“Regions or locations using COVID-19 vaccines that may contain live viruses may or may not choose not to follow this guidance until more data is evaluated,” said the experts.
“It should also be noted that no vaccines used in the United States contain live virus, so this guidance may be best suited for specific areas where no live virus COVID-19 vaccines are given, including in Zimbabwe,” they said.