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VACCINE

Andalusia’s foreigners will get the Covid vaccine, but how should they register?

Andalusian health and government sources have told The Local Spain that foreigners living in the region will get the Covid-19 even if they’re not on the public health system. What still remains unclear is how they should register.

Andalusia's foreigners will get the Covid vaccine, but how should they register?
Photos: Cesar Manso/AFP

The news follows the previous announcement that foreigners who are not “beneficiaries of the Spanish public health system” in the southern region would not be able to get the vaccine, a big worry for the many foreigners in the region who have private health insurance instead and therefore no access to the inoculation.

Andalusia’s Health Council has now backtracked on its previous statements and said it will give foreigners who aren’t paying social security contributions but who live in the region the Covid-19 vaccine as well. 

“Foreign nationals who reside in Andalusia and who wish to, even if they don’t have public healthcare, will be vaccinated by Andalusia’s Public Health based on the priority  criteria established, and for the general population that’s based on age,” Andalusia’s Health Prevention Service told The Local Spain. 

“For this, the only prerequisite is to have legal residence in Andalusia.”

READ ALSO:

Spain’s Covid-19 vaccine calendar: When will I get it?

What should foreigners in Andalusia do?

Marbella’s Councillor for Foreigners Remedios Bocanegra confirmed with The Local that this is an Andalusian Health Council decision for the whole region, but spoke specifically about what foreigners in Malaga should do.

“In Málaga province and Marbella’s case the advice for foreign residents is to make sure they are registered at the town hall (empadronados) as soon as possible, or to ensure their padrón is updated.

“This will enable public health personnel to know of their existence through town hall records.

“It’s a service for people who are actually living here, we’re not offering any sort of vaccine tourism.”

It is not necessary to have a Spanish residency document – green residency document or TIE card – to register at the town hall (a passport is valid ID) but proving you actually live in the city, town or village – through a rental contract, bills or otherwise – is essential. 

In other words, you don’t have to register to be a resident before you can get the empadronamiento – it’s usually a quick and easy process, and often it can be done completely online.

READ MORE: 

Empadronamiento in Spain: What is it and how do I apply?

“I can confirm that in our province registering at the town hall is the advice, but I can’t say if in other provinces with different immigration demographics this is the recommended modus operandi,” Bocanegra stressed.

These discrepancies may well exist as Andalusia’s Health Prevention Service told The Local Spain that to vaccinate foreigners in the region, “their consulates must register their identification and location details and pass them onto the Andalusian government’s Council for Health”.

Granada-based journalist Albion Land contacted The Local Spain to say that the US Consulate in Fuengirola had so far not received any communication from Andalusian health services regarding these plans. 

“Dealing with a pandemic has been a learning curve for both governments and the general population,” Remedios Bocanegra concluded.

“I want to send out a message of calm to all foreigners living in Andalusia that they will receive the Covid-19 vaccine and that our government and health service is developing plans to reach them.”

Here at The Local Spain we’ll continue to update you with the latest information regarding vaccines for foreigners not just in Andalusia but all over Spain. Stay tuned and stay safe.

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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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