Spain will begin to administer Covid-19 vaccines to those under 50 years of age in June, according to an announcement made on Monday by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Mr Sanchez announced at the opening of the IV Ibero-American Congress of the Ibero-American Business Alliance Council (Ceapi), that the time has come for those aged between 40 and 49 to receive their first dose of the vaccine next month.
The announcement comes as one in five people in the age group 50-59, have already received at least one dosage of the Covid-19 vaccination.
“Today (Monday) we are going to have more than seven million people with complete protection and 15 million with one dose, meaning that once most citizens aged 70 to 79 have complete protection in May, the mass vaccination of the under-50s will begin in June,” said Sánchez.
“From June, we will start the mass vaccination of people under 50,” Sanchez continued, adding that Spain is “93 days away from reaching herd immunisation.”
“I am sure that sooner rather than later, we will achieve the target of 70% of the Spanish population vaccinated,” the prime minister added.
Most of Spain’s regions have already declared their plans to vaccinate those aged between 40 and 49 in June. In fact, the regional authorities in Castilla-La Mancha have said that they believe they will begin the rollout of the first Covid vaccine to people aged 30-39 before the start of July. Although at present this age group has not yet been included in the national vaccination strategy.
The last couple of weeks of May will see people in their seventies receive their second dose of the vaccine, which is needed to offer full protection against the Covid virus. More than half of this age group have already had both of their vaccines, having received either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna or Janssen vaccinations.
People in their sixties will also continue to receive their vaccinations in May. This age group is receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been restricted to the 60-69 population due to some concerns over rare blood clot cases in younger patients.
The second dose of this vaccine must be given between six and 12 weeks after the first.
Some people in this age group are also receiving the Janssen vaccine (where only one dose is needed for full protection) although in much smaller numbers.
To ensure the vaccination programme continues at a good pace, there will be some overlap between age groups. For example, people in the 50-59 age group will start to receive their first vaccine just as the vaccination of the older generations is completed.
Those in the 50-59 age group will receive either the Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen vaccines.
Spain has so far received a total of 410,400 Janssen vaccines, with the pharmaceutical company, which is a subsidiary of the US drug company Johnson & Johnson promising to deliver a further 5.5 million shots in this quarter. However, neither the Spanish government nor the pharmaceutical company has explained exactly when or how quickly this will actually happen.
The arrival of those Janssen vaccines will be vital in determining how quickly the over-50’s will receive their vaccinations.
Those between the ages of 40 and 49 will be administered the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which use RNA messenger technology.
The Janssen vaccine, like the AstraZeneca, has been linked to rare cases of thrombosis, although at a lower incidence rate. In both cases, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) considers the risk to be extremely low, with one serious case per million doses, and say that the benefits of the vaccination against the Covid virus greatly outweigh the risks.
So far the vaccination programme in Spain has, to a large extent, been reliant on the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine, with more doses being delivered to the country than any other.
Since the beginning of May, Spain has been receiving 1.7 million Pfizer doses a week, a figure that will rise to 2.7 million in the month of June. This will enable the mass vaccination of the 40-49 age group to commence.
Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister also announced that Spain will start to use the European Union’s “Digital Green Certificate”, commonly known as the Covid-19 passport, before July.
In principle, this document will enable travel in the EU by allowing vaccinated tourists to visit the country without having to take a diagnostic test or quarantine. The certificate will also indicate whether the holder has tested negative for the coronavirus or recently had the virus.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa / Fernando Calvo