The approval, which was handed down by medicines regulator Swissmedic and announced by the Federal Office of Public Health on Tuesday, means that people vaccinated with one vaccine type can receive another, either as a booster or as a second jab.
Swissmedic also approved the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as a booster, although this will be only administered to those who previously received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Prior to the announcement, only the two mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Biontech/Pfizer) could be administered as boosters in Switzerland.
While cross-vaccination has been relatively common in some countries such as Germany and Austria – former German Chancellor Angela Merkel received both the Astra Zeneca and Biontech/Pfizer vaccines – in Switzerland the practice was only done off label, i.e. by a doctor without official approval.
This had caused problems for some Swiss residents, such as those who were vaccinated abroad with either Johnson and Johnson or Astra Zeneca and who were told by Swiss authorities that they were in effect unable to receive a second or booster vaccination in Switzerland.
What are the new rules?
A person who previously received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can receive a second dose after a minimum wait of two months.
The J&J vaccine – known as the Janssen vaccine – was initially thought to provide full protection with only one dose, although experts now believe a second dose is necessary.
Johnson and Johnson vaccine was not administered in Switzerland until October 2021, with authorities eventually deciding to allow the vaccine in order to provide an alternative for those who could not receive mRNA vaccines or who did not want to.