UK changes travel rules again to impose quarantine on European arrivals who had mixed vaccine doses

UK changes travel rules again to impose quarantine on European arrivals who had mixed vaccine doses
Angela Merkel is not fully vaccinated, according to British rules. Photo: Christian Mang/AFP
The UK government has changed its travel rules to demand that fully vaccinated arrivals in England must quarantine if they had two different vaccine doses - a practice common across Europe and taken up by thousands including German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The UK government’s travel rules say that arrivals from amber list countries (which includes the whole of Europe after France was reclassified from ‘amber plus’) no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

However an addition to the rules on August 12th shattered dreams of quarantine free travel for many, by adding an amendment stating that to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by UK rules, travellers must have had two vaccines of the same brand.

In several European countries mixing of vaccines has been quite widespread, particularly for those who had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before guidelines on its use in individual countries changed.

Many countries (including the UK) now advise not using AstraZeneca for younger people after concerns over the risk of rare blood clots.

Younger people who already had AstraZeneca for their first dose were advised by many countries’ health regulators to take Pfizer or Moderna for their second dose.

This covers tens of thousands of people including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French health minister Olivier Véran.

When we asked the British Department for Health and Social Care, we were told that people vaccinated with a mixed dose in the UK count as fully vaccinated, but those vaccinated in this way in other countries do not – however the rules as listed on the uk.gov website make no mention of an exception for people vaccinated in the UK.

A DHSC spokesman said: “People who have received two different doses of a vaccine under the UK government vaccination programme can still be certified as fully vaccinated through the COVID pass. We are working as quickly as possible to determine which other countries’ vaccines and certification solutions we would be confident to recognise.”

French Health Minister Olivier Véran was vaccinated with a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second of Moderna. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

There is no credible medical evidence that individuals who had two different brands of Covid vaccine are less protected against the virus, in fact some studies have suggested better protection from mixing and matching doses.

The ‘clarification’ of vaccine rules comes after a similar update saying that people who had received only a single dose of the vaccine after recovering from Covid – which is the standard practice in France – are also not considered fully vaccinated in the UK.

These rules at present affect only arrivals in England, the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so far not indicated a change to their definitions.

Arrivals into the UK not considered fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days (which can be done at a location of your choice) and pay for travel tests on Day 2 and Day 8 after arrival.

Fully vaccinated arrivals do not need to quarantine, but must still pay for the Day 2 test.

READ ALSO How to book that Day 2 test if you are travelling to the UK

All arrivals need to fill in a passenger locator form, and the form cannot be completed without a booking reference for tests, so the tests need to be booked and paid for before departure.

Under the UK rules, arrivals are considered fully vaccinated if;

  • They have been vaccinated with vaccines approved by the UK regulator – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen)
  • They have been vaccinated with two doses of the same vaccine
  • They are 14 days after the final dose

Member comments

  1. does anyone actually know if when visiting the UK from Denmark for 3 nights, Friday to Monday, if we actually need a fit to fly test or will the day 2 results suffice, i was leaving Stanstead airport yesterday morning and their customer service team there,4 of them, could not answer the question.

  2. Months ago I mentioned that this vaccine malarky was just a money making scam. And reading all your messages above, confirms it.
    Most people on this site jumped down my throat calling me terrible names – well, I hope you’re feeling sorry.

  3. This whole scheme is so costly and so unfair. We have just spent over €1000 on Covid tests for three of us travelling to the UK for a family visit and wedding (third time it had been postponed). The costs are outrageous and clearly aimed at filling the coffers of the private healthcare system (this lining the pockets of many politicians and their chums….).
    Our daughter was made to do 2 tests within the first 6 days and we also had a person call round the house to check she was there on the 4th day of her quarantine. All this because the full 14 days had not passed after her second vaccine. Worth noting that at no point during our trip to and from the UK, did anyone ask to see our vaccine certificates/Green Pass.
    As for the mixed vaccines rule (which would have applied to her) I have only just read about this – thankfully we are now back home in Italy. However I have also noticed that the tampone costs have increased from €39 to €50 per person! I can imagine there are families who have not been able to reunite this summer because of this prohibitively costly set of hurdles. It’s a poor reflection on the UK government but really not that surprising unfortunately.

  4. How do they know what vaccines you have had? My pass sanitaire says 2 doses and Moderna but my first does was AZ. Is there something in the QR code that says I hvae had one AZ and one Moderna? I was just starting to plan my trip home to see my parents and now i Have no idea when I can go and see them.

  5. Sad to read that the UK GOV appear not to be confident of their AZ jab. My wife had one |AZ and then a Pfizer. Now despite paying into the UK Tax system for year as a resident of Germany she is not allowed to go to the UK.
    I on the other hand am allowed to travel because I had two x Pfizer. Therefore there must be something iffy about the AZ – what a shambles – starting to become a very small little island.

  6. If AZ has a taxpayer to thank, it’s the American one: the Trump administration funded AZ-Oxford to the tune of US.2 bn. As per the EU being “litigant”, well, when a provider does not deliver 70% of its contract, there is ground to go to court, isn’t it? Especially since we are not talking reports or cement, but billions of dollars worth of life-saving pharmaceutical products. Pfizer and Moderna didn’t face the EU in court, because they delivered, and the EU has ordered billions of extra doses with these providers alone, AZ having pushed itself on the blacklist. And, if the AZ vaccine is so marvellous, how come hasn’t the UK ordered more of this second rate product for its own population, instead of dumping the UK AZ left-overs on developing countries?

  7. Let’s face it, all these rules are setup to stop people travelling.
    The sheer complexity (and cost ) of the UK scheme discourages most people to travel. That’s the goal from the government’s point of view.
    Ministers rather be hated (they are anyway) than sitting in the dock for allowing a disease to spread and having done nothing to contain it.
    And most importantly, from the government’s point of view, this pandemonium will be long forgotten when the next election is called up.

  8. The British taxpayer set up 20 AZ supply lines around the World – which have supplied 97% of all vaccine doses globally. The EU is a customer and litigant and not a supplier.

  9. You either “give” or you “sell at cost”, you don’t “give at cost”; this lapsus per se reflects the very selfish British attitude towards their vaccine “generosity”. By May 2021, the EU had exported 227 million doses to 46 countries (not counting Covax); the UK… is supposed to have begun delivering nine million doses of coronavirus vaccine to “the most vulnerable countries” early August. These are mostly doses of the sub-par Astra Zeneca vaccine that nobody wants anymore and that have to be dumped on developing countries.

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