Spain’s public health system is in preparation to begin administering a third Covid-19 ‘booster’ vaccine to nearly seven million people aged 70 plus.
After conducting one of the most successful Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, a new drive is now in motion. The administering of the booster jab will coincide with the annual Flu vaccine as it also targets the same age group.
The Oxford University’s statistical repository ‘Our World in Data’, shows that Spain is currently the only country out of 50, with a high population, that has almost 80 per cent of its inhabitants fully vaccinated. The average in the European Union is 64 per cent.
Information that was released by the Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday, reveals that 37,102.507 people (81.1%) aged 12 and over, have now received full protection from the vaccines.
The 14 cumulative case rate has risen slightly to 43 per 100,000 people, which although slightly higher, means it is still classed as ‘low-risk’.
Yesterday 2,528 new Covid infections were reported bringing the total number of infections, since March 2020, to 4,993.295 and sadly a further 31 Covid patients lost their lives, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 87,082.
As the third vaccine is ready to be rolled out there are many questions that are being asked such as; Who is eligible for it? Which vaccine will be given? And how will it be administered?
Up to this point, Spain’s Health Ministry has said that only the following groups should get a Covid-19 ‘booster’ vaccine;
Currently and according to Health Ministry data, there are 6.9 million people in the over 70 years age group living in Spain and of those, 99.2% have been fully vaccinated. These people will start to receive appointments to have the third jab very soon. Those in the southern region of Andalusia saw messages being sent out on Monday.
Antoni Trilla, head of preventive medicine at Clínic Hospital in Barcelona said “It’s been decided to administer it to the over-70s because they are still a risk group. Also, because ageing typically causes a drop in antibody levels that makes them more exposed to infection. Although many of the over-70s remain protected against the most serious forms of the disease thanks to cell immunity, I usually say that a booster shot obviously boosts [immunity], and it’s important to reduce virus circulation among these groups.”
Discussions by The Public Health Committee, made up of central and regional health authorities, have been taking place regarding extending the third dose to people aged over 65 years, but no decision has been made yet.
Amós García, president of the Spanish Vaccinology Association (AEV) said that “For those under 65, or under 60 at the most, the available evidence shows that a third dose is not necessary for healthy individuals.”
Another group that has been given the go-ahead to receive the third vaccine are those who are Immunosuppressed. This covers a large group of people with one or more of the following health conditions:
Care home residents – Elderly people living in care homes, most of whom will fall into the above categories, also form part of the initial Covid booster vaccine programme.
As to which vaccine will be used for the third vaccine, so far both the Pfizer and the Moderna jabs have been approved, with the Moderna receiving approval on Monday, October 24, by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EMA also recommended previously that the Moderna vaccine should be used when giving the third jab to immunocompromised patients.
The ‘booster’ rollout comes at the same time as Spain's Flu vaccination programme begins and it is important to have both. Amós García says it is in fact recommended and “There’s no problem, according to all published studies. But you should get one in each arm.
“From a logistical point of view, the most reasonable thing is to get them together because you save time and trips, both for the patients and for the health professionals.”
Although there are slight differences between the Spanish regions, the flu shots will start to be given in the second half of October.