Why Madrid authorities have suspended Covid vaccination programme

Madrid health authorities have announced that they are suspending vaccination against COVID-19 for a period of at least two weeks.

Why Madrid authorities have suspended Covid vaccination programme
Photo: AFP

Madrid health authorities have announced that they are suspending vaccination against COVID-19 for a period of at least two weeks.

According to Madrid’s deputy regional president Ignacio Aguado, the measure has to be taken because the region is running low on doses.

This means that the few doses it does have will be reserved as a second jab to give to patients who have already received the first dose.

But no new people will be called up for a first vaccination until at least the second week in February, even those who fall into the top priority group.

“Unfortunately, as we suspected the pace of deliveries was interrupted,” Aguado told a press conference on Wednesday.

In a tweet, Aguado highlighted that new vaccinations would be suspended for “at least the next two weeks” and urged Spain's health ministry to “move heaven and earth” to procure more doses.

He warned that, at the current pace of vaccination, only 10 percent of the population of the Madrid region will be inoculated by the end of July, short of the target of 70 percent set by Spain's national government and by the EU.

Spain is still in its first phase of vaccination programme which gives priority to care-home residents and front-line medics, and just over 1.3 million doses have already been administered across Spain.

Some 10 percent of those in the priority group have already received a second jab, according to Health Ministry data.

The Madrid region has so far vaccinated 180,000 people since the campaign started at the end of December with the first dose already administered to 94 percent of those in care homes and 79 percent of Madrid public healthcare professionals.

In addition 10,706 workers in private healthcare have also received their first jab.

But Madrid said that in addition to delaying those who belonged to the first group but have not yet received the first dose it will also delay opening up the vaccination to the next priority group; those over 80 years old who live in private homes.

Catalonia has said it is also suffering shortages of the vaccines and that they would prioritize second doses to ensure people who had already received their first dose acheived full immunity before the time limtit expired.

Attitudes to vaccination have been changing fast with the latest poll suggesting that Spaniards are much more willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine  now than they were in October of last year.

A survey by the Spanish Science Ministry reveals that 58.1 percent feel “completely certain” that they would get vaccinated tomorrow if they could compared to 20.2 percent back in October.

On the other side just 8.7 percent of respondents insisted they would “never get the vaccine” a huge drop from the 32.5percent who felt the same way three months ago.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.