The gap between first and second doses of one of the vaccines being used in the island’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is to be extended to up to 10 weeks. 

Delivery of first jabs has been prioritised in the UK in order to protect more people in the short term, to curb rising case numbers and reduce hospitalisations and preventable deaths. 

Latest evidence arising from deployment of the Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK has confirmed that the interval between the two doses may be extended beyond the original 28 days, and that the vaccine has an average 76% effectiveness against symptomatic coronavirus infection for three months after the first dose. 

After extensive review of the evidence by senior clinicians in the Department of Health and Social Care, the strategy to extend the gap between the two doses of the Oxford vaccine is now being adopted in the island.  

Minister David Ashford said: ‘We are guided by the evidence in this matter and have responded accordingly. The decision means more people will be vaccinated with one dose at an earlier stage than originally planned. Our team is now working hard to re-draw our vaccination schedule.’

The new dose intervals for Oxford / AstraZeneca will come into effect for all who are either registered with 111 following their invitation letter and those who will be invited in the future. The change won’t affect people who already have an appointment from 111 for their second dose of the Oxford vaccine, which will go ahead as planned. 

Modelling of the rollout in line with expected delivery schedules of the vaccine and the updated second dose time frames will vary delivery of first and second doses by a few weeks but not change the overall programme. Delivery of vaccines to the island remains the biggest variable in the mass vaccination programme. 

The dose interval for the Pfizer vaccine remains 21 days but this is subject to ongoing review in line with emerging evidence.