MADRID – Good news for Spain: now that practically all over-60s have been vaccinated, vaccination of 50-59 year-olds, the baby boom generation, will start this week. A nice step towards group immunity, which can be reached at the end of August.
The 50-59 age group includes more than seven million Spaniards, representing 17% of the total ‘vaccinated population’ in Spain. Vaccination of this population group has started in the Madrid and Murcia regions. Meanwhile Andalucia and Aragon have started to call up the first 50-59 year-olds.
Castilla-La Mancha will also start vaccinating this group. And Catalonia, La Rioja, Cantabria, Valencia and Galicia have scheduled the first shots next week. Thereafter, Navarre will then start calling up its residents. The Catalan government estimates that at this rate it will be possible to start vaccinating the 40-49 year-olds in June.
This new step in phase 2 of the vaccination campaign begins after progress has been made in the most vulnerable group to the coronavirus, the over 60s, a population of more than 12 million people. 83.5% of them have already received the first dose, and 38% have been fully vaccinated. In many cases, AstraZeneca was administered, requiring the second shot only 14 weeks later.
However, after some ‘rare’ cases of deaths due to thrombosis following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the use of the vaccine was stopped by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Public Health has already authorised the use of every available vaccine in this segment for those who have not had a second dose.
Seven million people
According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, over 7 million people in the 50-59 year-olds age group have already received their first dose. These are mainly people with essential occupations such as police, firemen and teachers etc 998,116 (14.2%). In many cases they have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it is now a matter of waiting for the decision of the health authorities to see what happens next for these people. Will they get the Oxford vaccine (now called VaxZevria) or Pfizer, BioNTech or Moderna? And what are the consequences?
The rest of this group is expected to be vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, although Minister Carolina Darias announced last Wednesday that it is being investigated whether the Janssen vaccine (of which only one dose is needed) can also be administered.
This new phase is good news after several delays caused by the ongoing stumbling blocks with AstraZeneca and Janssen.
Now that the state of alert has been lifted along with anti-pandemic measures in many regions, the government is relying on immunisation as the main means of halting the spread of the virus. As of Thursday, 5.6 million people (12% of the population) had been fully vaccinated, while nearly 13 million have received at least one dose.
One of the government’s goals of having five million people vaccinated by the first week of May has been met. The next targets are as follows.
- 1st week of June: 10 million fully vaccinated
- 3rd week of June: 15 million
- 4th week of July: 20 million
- End of August: 33 million (70% of the Spanish population, which would mean group immunity).
The above phase will be followed by vaccination of persons under 50 years of age. However, the details of phase 3, are not yet known. But this is when more vaccines are expected to become available. These include Germany’s Curevac and others that have applied to the EMA for authorisation, Russia’s Sputnik and China’s Sinovac.
Holiday or health?
Therefore the target of immunising 70% of the population by the end of August is within reach. However, as the summer holidays fall in this period, Minister Darias has already warned that anyone who misses their vaccination appointment because they are on holiday will have to join the end of the queue to be vaccinated.