The decision on mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines was made after localities claimed they were running out of the Moderna vaccine for the second dose of the same vaccine.
For the time being, several localities started to mix and match the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in order to increase the vaccination coverage.
The MoH said it has so far received approximately 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States and it has allocated them all to localities.
According to the ministry, Vietnam has received a total of more than 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, mostly AstraZeneca, from different sources, either through purchase contracts or donations.
But for the Moderna vaccine, it has completely relied on donations and yet to sign any contracts with the manufacturer.
Due to the vaccine shortages, in order to boost the ongoing inoculation drive and increase the vaccination coverage, the MoH agreed that:
- Either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine could be used as a second dose after an initial dose of AstraZeneca, if the latter is not available.
- The Pfizer vaccine could be administered as a booster shot if the first dose of Moderna is given, and vice versa.
Several ongoing studies are investigating the effects of mixing coronavirus shots. Data has been released from mixed trials in Spain and the United Kingdom, which suggest that mixing vaccines leads to a strong immune response and sometimes outperforms two doses of the same vaccine.
The MoH earlier issued guidelines regarding mixing two vaccines. Those given their first shot of the Sinopharm, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines must be given the booster shot of the same type.
However, in the case of limited supply, the Pfizer vaccine can be given as the second dose for those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first jab, with the consent of the people to be vaccinated.
According to the MoH, tens of millions of doses of Pfizer, Sinopharm, and AstraZeneca are expected to arrive in Vietnam in September and beyond.
To date, Vietnam has licensed six COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use locally, namely AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and Sinopharm. Except for the Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) vaccine, which is yet to be imported into Vietnam, the remaining five vaccines are being used on the condition that each person needs to get two shots.
As of September 8, more than 23.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered nationwide, with more than 3.7 million people getting fully vaccinated.