Reader question: How do I get a Covid vaccine if I’m not in Spain’s public health system?

Reader question: How do I get a Covid vaccine if I’m not in Spain’s public health system?
Photo: AFP
Many readers have written in to express the worry that they will slip through the net of Spain’s vaccination programme if they not registered in the public health system.

Some foreign residents in Spain are not entitled to free healthcare and therefore pay for private health insurance but as we are all aware, the vaccination programme is being coordinated by Spain’s government and is not available privately.

Paloma Hoffman, who represents a group of foreign residents in Benissa said a lot of people were very worried.

“There is a large group of people who are not in the system, either because they have private health insurance or have healthcare linked to another country,” she explained in an interview with Spanish radio RTE.

“These people, many elderly, aren’t accounted for at the health centres, but they are legally registered as residents here, they pay taxes. Why can’t they take the information from the town hall census and not just through the health centres?” she asked.

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So here’s what we know so far:

Vaccines for all

Firstly, be assured that the Spanish government has emphasized that no distinction will be made between citizens and non-citizens and has pledged to vaccinate everyone in the country, regardless of their legal status and that includes those not registered within social security system including ‘illegal’ immigrants and the homeless.

“All those living in Spain will be able to receive the vaccination against the virus as the campaign unrolls. Vaccination is universal, it includes all people,” insisted a Health Ministry spokesman.

This has been enshrined in the vaccination strategy unveiled on December 2nd where it explicitly states that when it comes to the vaccine, “each person must be considered and treated with equal dignity and rights”.

“This principle prohibits prioritizing access to vaccines based solely on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, nationality, origin, disabilities, economic or social condition and others,” it states.

While that should be reassurring it has left people wondering how the state will know who they are if they are not registered at the local medical centre. What about those who rely on private health insurance?

Is there a waiting list?

The Valencia government has warned against rumours that they have a vaccine waiting list.

“There is no such list. Those who are eligible for a vaccine will be vaccinated according to the risk group they belong to, as per the wider vaccine rollout,” insisted the authorities.

So how will they find you?

We don’t have information yet on how the people will be called up to be vaccinated but it will be organised by the regional health authority where you live.

Those living in Spain have been advised to contact their local health centre to register regardless of whether they are entitled to free health care or have private health insurance.

Before you do just drop in, it is advised to call ahead as some health care centres require an appointment.

You should provide the following information:

  1. Your passport (bring a copy just in case)
  2. Your residence card (green certificate if EU member or TIE if third country national). If you have one.
  3. “Certificado de empadronamiento” (registration with the Town Hall) which is no older than three months.
  4. In the case of minors, you should bring their documents and birth certificates as well. Children do not need to be present.

Keep checking the health authority announcements online in the region where you are living as each regional government will be responsible for administering the programme in their community.

You can do so my clicking on this interactive map for information in each of Spain’s autonomous regions:

What you definitely shouldn’t do:

The Valencian health authorities reported being inudated with registrations through a link on their webpage that is specifically for those with suspected coronavirus who are not already registered in the public health system.

They believe the link (https://coronavirusregistro.san.gva.es/sipcovid19/registrosinsip) has been erroneously shared on social media and want to reiterate that it is only for those with Covid symptoms seeking immediate medical attention.

“This link is for patients who have Covid-19 symptoms only (and do not have a SIP card), it will register them on the system so that they can receive the appropriate medical attention,” the Valencia government said in a statement.

“It seems this link is being circulated erroneously on social media as a way of registering to receive the vaccine for those who aren’t on the state system e.g. those with private health insurance. This is not the case, and those who have registered on the system using this link are, in fact, notifying the authorities that they have symptoms. As a result, the authorities are duty-bound to call every individual, which is placing an unnecessary strain on their system in the cases where people have registered incorrectly.”

What will it cost?

Spain has pledged that the vaccine will be free to everyone, even those who don’t have a health card, such as the homeless or irregular immigrants.

“The vaccines and the vaccinations are free for all Spain’s population,” states the Spanish government on the webpage dedicated to FAQs on the vaccination programme.

Therefore we can expect everyone working or residing in Spain to be able to get the vaccine for free, even if they aren’t registered in the Spanish state health system and no priority will be given to those with health insurance or wanting to pay for it privately – something which just isn’t an option under the state vaccination programme.

However, this is unlikely to include tourists or second home owners.

There’s no rush

Spain has begun a step-by-step vaccination scheme, placing elderly in care homes and those that work in them as first in line to get the injection.

Health workers on the frontline of the coronavirus battle are also included in the priority group for the first stage of the vaccination programme which is scheduled to last until at least the end of February.

The vaccination programme will then be unrolled across the rest of the population divided into groups depending on risk assessment which broadly falls into age range, existing conditions etc.

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