Spain has fulfilled the second major objective of the Government within the vaccination campaign against covid: to close the first week of June with 10 million people with the complete vaccination schedule. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has announced, through social networks, the achievement of the milestone, which places 21% of the Spanish population with the vaccination cycle completed. Specifically, the Ministry of Health has reported this Friday that 10.2 million people (21.6% of Spaniards) have completed the vaccination schedule. With the immunization campaign already advancing at cruising speed and the communities immersed in the inoculation of drugs against covid to the age groups of 50 to 59 years – some have even started with the group of 40 to 49 – , the next challenge for Pedro Sánchez’s Executive is to reach June 20 with 15 million people fully vaccinated.
The second great achievement of the Government – the first, also accomplished, was to close the first week of May with five million people with the complete vaccination schedule – comes at a time when the epidemic curve attenuates its fall and places the country’s incidence in 118 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Some communities, such as Andalusia, have begun to rebound again and several regional governments are in full confrontation with Health for the application of a set of measures agreed in the Interterritorial Council to limit activity in the hotel industry and nightlife until 70 % of the population is vaccinated. Although Health has insisted that the restrictions, modulated according to the epidemiological situation, are mandatory, Madrid, the Basque Country and Andalusia (three of the communities with the highest incidence), have already announced that they will not comply with the measures.
Since April and, especially throughout the month of May, the traffic of vaccines arriving in Spain has increased substantially and the rate of vaccination has accelerated. Every week just over two million doses are injected and there are already 19 million people who have received at least one puncture. Since the vaccination campaign began, on December 27, 2020, Spain has administered more than 28.7 million doses. The final objective of the Government is to reach the end of August with 70% of the Spanish population fully vaccinated against covid.
With nursing homes and those over 70 years of age almost completely vaccinated, the communities combine injections for the 50 to 59 group with second doses for the 60 to 69 group. This group, considered among the most vulnerable due to the high risk of severe illness and death if they contract COVID, it lags further in the second doses because its reference vaccine is AstraZeneca, which has a longer time between doses (12 weeks) than messenger RNA vaccines (21 or 28 days ). Some autonomies, such as the Canary Islands, Catalonia or Castilla-La Mancha, among others, have also begun to cite and vaccinate the group between 40 and 49 years old.
Although European countries such as Italy, France or Germany are beginning to remove age restrictions for vaccinating, Spain maintains this parameter and combines vaccination due to age flows with punctures to other vulnerable groups, either due to their medical situation (cancer patients , people on dialysis or suffering from cystic fibrosis, among other pathologies) or their socioeconomic circumstances. In fact, autonomous communities such as Andalusia or Catalonia have used Janssen single-dose vaccines to immunize, as recommended by the common vaccination strategy, groups with difficult access to the health system: for example, homeless people, temporary workers from the fruit or migrants in an irregular administrative situation. Sailors who spend long periods on the high seas are also prioritizing the vaccination campaign.
The rising rate of vaccination in Spain has led to this Friday the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, also opening the door for adolescents to enter the vaccination campaign in the coming months. Darias has assured that he will propose to the Public Health Commission, where the ministry and the autonomies are represented, the vaccination of minors between 12 and 17 years old before the school year begins. The experts consulted, although they celebrate the flow of vaccines, question the relevance of puncturing this group, with a low risk of contracting the serious forms of covid or dying, when developing countries have not yet managed to protect their adult population. vulnerable. “In a global pandemic, the problem is not national. We will only be safe when everyone is vaccinated, ”warns Quique Bassat, pediatrician and epidemiologist at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
Until vaccines reach adolescents, however, communities still have many punctures and open fronts to face. Although the setbacks of the first days of vaccination, with constant delays in the arrival of vaccines, have already been resolved and the care circuit is more extensive, the last few weeks have not been free of ups and downs. To begin with, with the administration of the second doses to people under 60 years vaccinated with the first injection of the AstraZeneca drug. After suspending vaccination in this age group due to the very rare risk of thrombi, Health recommended using Pfizer’s for the second dose, although it opened the door to completing the regimen with the same drug. The first data from some communities showed that the option to repeat with AstraZeneca was, against the criteria of Health, the predominant one, a situation that, in the long term and if the pharmaceutical company does not comply with the agreed shipments of doses, can threaten the supply of AstraZeneca vaccines for the population pending second doses with this drug.
It is also up in the air what will happen to Janssen’s vaccine, of which more than five million doses were expected before the end of June and more than 17 million in total before ending the third quarter of the year, but, for now, only barely a million have arrived. The Public Health Commission has agreed to extend the schedule with this vaccine to the age group between 40 and 49 years, but, if the agreed shipment does not arrive on time and the age range is not extended to people under 40, a good part of the compromised vaccines will remain in a drawer.