Spain has announced that a third booster dose of the Covid vaccine will be given to nursing home residents along with those in other vulnerable groups.
The Public Health Commission had initially said that it would make the decision on when this would happen on October 4, but have decided not to wait until then, instead, the third dose will be administered “immediately”.
A statement from the Ministry of Health, states that this decision has been reached because those living in care homes are “fragile, have multiple pathologies and live in closed environments”.
The Health Minister Carolina Darias (pictured) confirmed the move on Thursday and said it is in line with the recommendations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). She also said that new data shows that the infection rate has fallen to its lowest level since June.
Spain’s national infection rate, as measured over the past 14 days, fell on Thursday to 96 cases per 100,000 people. This is the first time since June 25 that it has dropped below the 100-case threshold.
Reports from the Ministry show that there have been 4,075 new cases since Wednesday, bringing the total to 4.9 million. The death toll rose by 101 to 85,739.
The Health Minister announced that not only will the third ‘booster’ vaccine be given to those living in residential homes, it will also be given to cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. People who have health conditions that require immunosuppressive treatment would also be eligible for a booster dose.
Others who will be given the third jab include those who have had organ transplants and those suffering from blood cancers, are on hemodialysis or dialysis and those over the age of 40 years with Down’s syndrome.
Several countries, including Britain, France and the United States, have also decided to offer a third booster vaccine to the elderly and people with weak immune systems, although currently there is no scientific consensus as to whether or not they are necessary.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has actually advised that the booster jab should be delayed if at all possible so that other poorer countries who have less access to the vaccines can be vaccinated first.
However, Spain has made the decision to administer the third dose, after pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna, recommended the administration of a third jab before the end of the year due to the spread of the Delta variant.
The Spanish Ministry of health has always said that it was committed to consistently reviewing the groups who are in need of the vaccine booster but the EMA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control stand firm on the credence that it is not, at the present time, necessary for the general population.
During the announcement, Darias also highlighted the fact that 75 per cent of the Spanish population had already been fully vaccinated and encouraged those who were not yet vaccinated, to “do so as soon as possible”.
In addition to approving more groups for the third booster dose, on Thursday, the Public Health Commission also wanted to highlight that “At this moment, the main recommendation is to vaccinate all people older than 12”.
Image Credit: Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa