TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center on Friday (Nov. 12) announced that individuals inoculated with Taiwan's Medigen COVID vaccine who need to fly overseas can mix their vaccination with foreign brands approved by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to meet the COVID travel requirements of other countries.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said whether they have received one or two doses of Medigen, people preparing to travel can also take two doses of AstraZeneca (AZ), Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT), or Moderna starting 28 days after their last Medigen dose. Chen said the decision to allow the mixing of Medigen with the other vaccines was made after a discussion was held by experts during a meeting of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The policy change is designed for travelers who must submit a vaccine certificate that shows proof of vaccination with internationally recognized jabs. The CECC will now allow Medigen recipients preparing to travel overseas to be inoculated with vaccines that have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from Taiwan's FDA.
Medigen recipients who wish to be inoculated with other vaccines are requested to present supporting documents such as e-tickets, proof of enrollment or employment overseas, as well as their National Health Insurance (NHI) card and COVID vaccination card. After a doctor has determined that a person is eligible to mix Medigen with other jabs, it is recommended that they wait at least 28 days after the last Medigen shot before starting a new round of vaccinations with another brand.
Chen said that individuals who have already received two Medigen doses and have no need to go abroad are not recommended to receive other COVID vaccines. Chen suggested that people who have already received one dose of Medigen and have no need to go abroad to go ahead and receive the second dose of the vaccine, according to the original schedule.
Chen explained the policy change has been made because many countries now require proof of full inoculation by a COVID vaccine that has received emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the food and drug administration in the destination country. He pointed out that the additional doses from the foreign brands will need to be given at the recommended intervals and should be completed 14 days before traveling abroad.
The CECC head said there are no clinical studies or trials that confirm, or not, the safety and efficacy of mixing Medigen with other brands of COVID vaccines. According to small-scale studies on the mixing of different vaccine brands conducted in other countries, the incidence and severity of side effects have been found to be higher than with inoculations given with just one brand. Chen, therefore, called on people wishing to mix vaccines to first consult with a physician.
People who must travel overseas can make an appointment to be vaccinated through hospitals designated by the health department of their local county or city government. Currently, the three foreign COVID vaccines to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Taiwan FDA include AZ, BNT, and Moderna,
As for the recommended interval for these vaccines, each dose of the AZ jab should be four to 12 weeks apart, BNT shots should be separated by 21 days, and the minimum gap between Moderna doses is 28 days.
Chen pointed out that six countries now recognize the Medigen COVID vaccine, including New Zealand, Palau, Indonesia, Argentina, Israel, and Belize.