People who have been vaccinated with non-World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved mixes of vaccines will be treated as unvaccinated and will have to undergo quarantine at their own expense when entering Trinidad and Tobago.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh made the statement in response to multiple questions during Wednesday’s covid19 virtual media conference.
Deyalsingh said while the current advice is that the same vaccine should be used for both doses, the World Health Organization had approved the mixing of only two vaccines in a specific order.
“When AstraZeneca is used as the first dose and Pfizer as the second, they show a slightly increased reactogenicity, or side-effect profile, with a similar or better immune response.
"So we have to be careful of not following the bandwagon of mixing vaccines.
"The WHO supports Pfizer as a second dose to AstraZeneca if a second dose is not available.”
Addressing the issue of people arriving in TT with a first dose of Pfizer and a second of Moderna, which is approved by Canada, he said it was a sovereign country and could have its own recommendations, but TT was using the WHO-approved vaccine mix only.
“If they are unvaccinated by TT standards, they then have to quarantine at their own expense when entering TT.
"No other combination other than AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and a two-week period following the second vaccine, will qualify someone to be fully vaccinated to enter the country without quarantine.
"Once you’ve gone through the quarantine process, you should consult with your private doctor to get an opinion as to whether they can take other vaccines available in TT. That’s a private decision to be made between their physician and the patient.”
He said he would alert the people in charge of the TT Travelpass platform that there needed to be a space for inputting a mixture of vaccines.
Addressing the issue of a three-four-day incubation period for the delta variant which might not be detected by the 72-hour PCR test required to enter the country, Deyalsingh said the ministry was always reviewing entry protocols based on incoming and up-to-date information and international best practices.
Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards answered a question on mixing AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, asked by a member of the public who had had an adverse reaction to the first shot of AstraZeneca.
“The WHO does not recommend mixing of AstraZeneca and Sinopharm and this will not be administered at any of our vaccination sites. I recommend they call the 800-WELL and 877-WELL hotline and they will be assessed. They would also need a referral letter from their private physician saying what the adverse event was.”