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VACCINE

More than half of Spaniards unwilling to take Covid-19 vaccine immediately

More than half of Spaniards will not be willing to get COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are available, according to the results of a new survey, reports Reuters.

More than half of Spaniards unwilling to take Covid-19 vaccine immediately
whitesession / Pixabay

This comes as the Spanish government announced a target of 15-20 million vaccinations, around a third of the population, by mid-2021.

There are now a few different vaccines which have been proved successful against Covid-19 during testing, but one of the biggest hurdles for governments will be to convince enough of their citizens to get one, so that herd immunity can take place.

Even in Spain, where vaccination rates are typically high, this may prove to be difficult, as shown by the official survey by the Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS).

The results showed that just a third of the population would be ready to take the Covid-19 vaccine immediately, while 55.2 percent of them would want to wait and see what the potential side effects could be fist. The poll was carried out between November 23 and 26 on 2,130 people.

However, out of the 55.2 percent of people who would rather wait, almost 60 percent said that they would change their mind if their doctor recommended them to take it because they were at risk or were putting their family members at risk.

Only 8.4 percent of Spaniards would refuse to take any sort of vaccine.

Last week the Spanish government unveiled its vaccination plan for when the vaccines are approved. Health Minister Salvador Illa has said that the Covid-19 vaccine will be free and voluntary.

The plan is to start vaccinating in nursing homes first from January.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said that he expects to have between 15 and 20 million people to be vaccinated by May or June 2021. This would be just under half of the population, as Spain has 47 million inhabitants.

In a previous CIS survey, carried out between November 3 and 12, 36.8 percent said they would take the vaccine shot immediately, while 47.8 percent said they would not, however the question in that survey did not include the option of waiting for the effects to be known first.

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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