Spain is set to begin vaccinating the population against the Coronavirus from December 27, the Minister for Health, Salvador Illa said on Friday.
The vaccines will start to arrive across the country from December 26 with the immunisation process beginning soon after starting with the high priority groups.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Salvador Illa said: “The doses will reach all the regions on Saturday the 26th or Sunday the 27th, in coordination with Europe, which will distribute them on the 26th.
“All regions will receive the amount allotted to them equitably so they can begin the vaccination process.”
Illa issued a warning that the pandemic was at a “very worrying” evolution with 10 of the autonomous communities seeing a sharp increase in infections.
This has led a number of regions to tighten their own restrictions over the Christmas period to prevent further contagion.
“We do not want to wait for a single day. It is not the end, but the beginning of the end and we want this beginning to begin as soon as possible,” he said.
"We are all ready to start on the 27th and we all want to start the first possible day," said the health minister.
Spain’s immunisation drive was initially set to begin on January 4, however, this date was brought forward after the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signalled that the vaccine could be rolled out earlier than first anticipated.
Sr Illa stressed that it is still unknown how many doses of Pfizer vaccine the country will receive, but said it would be a “significant number”, although confessed it would not be “as many as he would like.”
The second vaccine candidate from Moderna is also expected to be authorised by the European Commission after being analysed by the European Agency for Medication (EMA) on January 8.
The vaccination campaign will begin with the most vulnerable including the elderly living in care homes and will be the first of the four priority groups that will be vaccinated between December and the beginning of March.
The health minister insisted the vaccination would not be mandatory and that there will be no form of penalty for those who did not show up to be vaccinated. However, he hoped that the opposite would be true and that citizens would participate in this vaccination campaign as they do with others.
Illa asked that citizens acted with “prudence” and comply with any local restrictions that may be in place warning communities that “we must react”.
Illa continued to praise and show his support for the regional governments who have already put measures in place for the Christmas period including the Canary Islands and Balearics last week, Catalonia, the Valencian Community on Thursday and the Community of Madrid on Friday.
It is hoped that around 60% of the country’s 47 million population will be vaccinated by August 2021.
The government hopes to complete the initial phase of immunisation between January and March. Phase 2 between April and June with phase 3 taking place between July and September.
As yet, it has not been confirmed which groups will be vaccinated in phase 2 and 3, however, it is believed that the elderly and staff in care homes along with other key healthcare workers will be vaccinated as a priority in the first phase.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa