Will Spain miss out on a flu vaccine this autumn?

by Deborah Cater
Spain has still not ordered it flu vaccine doses

Four months to go before the flu vaccination campaign starts in October. All European Union countries except Spain have already reserved their doses. Spain is now the only EU Member State not to complete the process of purchasing the flu vaccine.

On 22 June, the Spanish Council of Ministers gave the green light to the agreement for the selection of suppliers of the flu vaccines. A centralised purchase in which 12 autonomous regions participate alongside Ceuta and Melilla.

Five regions already far along in the process

According to regional sources, Galicia, Andalucia, the Canary Islands, the Basque Country and Catalonia are not participating in the agreement. They have already ordered their doses or are about to complete the purchase process for the 2021-2022 season. Although the Council of Ministers approved the framework agreement, this document has yet to be published alongside the tenders the autonomous communities have to make in order to join this centralised procurement.

Compared to last year, Spain is facing ‘a delay of about two or three weeks’ in the tendering process. According to sources, resolution won’t arrive before September. Normally, regions complete this process before the month of June, also for the sub-regions that are not part of the agreement.

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All hands on deck

The Spanish Ministry of Health has stated that it is ‘working hard to shorten the procedures and deadlines in order to get approval’.  The pharmaceutical industry points out that ‘ideally, by the end of the year, the Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities should inform the manufacturers of the number of doses they will need for the next flu vaccination campaign’.

Will Spain be left behind?

Does this delay mean that Spain will run out of flu vaccines? Not at all, as manufacturers forecast the number of doses required. But the delay could entail risks. For example, if there is a shortage, countries risk running out of vaccine.

The success of the previous campaign

Last year, the Ministry of Health launched an awareness campaign to encourage people to take the flu vaccine. By doing so, the government wanted to prevent the disease coinciding with Covid-19. According to data collected by ‘El Gripómetro’, 68% of the population over the age of 65 was vaccinated last year. That is an increase of more than 10% compared to previous campaigns. Moreover, to supplement the purchases made by the autonomous communities, the Ministry of Health purchased an additional five million doses to distribute to the regions.

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