Spain’s Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that anyone under the age of 55, who has no underlying health complications but have previously tested positive for Covid-19, will have to wait six months before receiving a vaccine.
Justifying their decision, the ministry explained that cases with reinfection within six months were so rare they were considered "exceptional".
The ministry also stated that people above the age of 55, or those with underlying health risks, therefore more at risk of contracting the virus, will be exempt from the delay. These people can expect to receive the vaccine according to the group they fall into, as stated by Spain’s vaccination strategy.
This provisional measure seems to be quite unique across Europe and will apply to the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford, AstraZeneca vaccines that are currently being distributed throughout Spain.
Last week a major British study published that it had found that 99% of its participants who had previously tested positive for Covid, retained antibodies for three months, while 88% of them still had them after six months.
Eleanor Riley, a Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at The University of Edinburgh said that “If the vaccine is in short supply and they are confident that they can reliably and confidently identify previously infected people, there is some rationale to this.”
In the first phase of the vaccination roll-out, vaccinations were reserved for care home residents, those that care for them and healthcare workers working on the coronavirus frontline.
But now with the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines, that have only been approved in Spain for those under the age of 55, key workers including law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and those in the armed forces have also been added to the list.
There are plans for it to also be administered to all healthcare professionals that are not working directly on the frontline. These include physiotherapists, pharmacists and home assistance carers. Supermarket employees, however, do not appear on the priority list, despite them being classed as essential workers way back in March of last year, during Spain’s strict lockdown.
Once Spain’s immunisation target of vaccinating at least 80% of over 80-year-olds has been reached (using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations), the over 70’s will then start receiving their vaccinations. This target is on schedule to be met by the end of March.
With a decreasing third wave, on Tuesday Spain’s 14-day infection rate dropped to 493 cases per 100,000, this is down from approximately 900 just two weeks ago.
The fatality toll, however, rose by 643 to 63,704 and the health ministry reported 18,114 infections bringing the overall total to 3.02 million.