What foreigners in Spain’s Murcia region need to know about getting the Covid vaccine

Each region in Spain is deciding how it incorporates foreign residents into its Covid vaccine strategy, including those who don’t have access to public healthcare. Here we look at how Murcia authorities are planning to offer the inoculation to its approximately 222,000 foreign residents. 

What foreigners in Spain's Murcia region need to know about getting the Covid vaccine
Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Covid-19 vaccine information geared specifically towards foreigners in Spain is hard to come by currently, not least because there is no central government decision on this and it’s up to all 17 regional governments to decide and inform their extranjeros of their Covid vaccination strategies. 

So far, we’ve covered the situation for foreigners in Andalusia and the Valencia region, with the general consensus for those with private health insurance being that they should either make sure they have their town hall registration (padrón) up to date or contact their local health authorities for a temporary public health card. 

The most important point for this anonymous group to do is to ensure their local health authorities know of their existence.

Foreigners who are residents and pay social security contributions in Spain will already be incorporated into the vaccine strategy, although it’s always useful to check your local health centre has your most up-to-date contact details. 

Where do foreigners in Murcia stand vis-à-vis the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Local Spain contacted Murcia’s Health Council to find out what information was available and their staff directed us to this bulletin.

It’s geared towards personas desplazadas, which in English can translate as displaced people, but in fact it largely refers to people whose main residence isn’t in Murcia but find themselves staying in the southeastern region currently for work or other reasons. 

Murcia health authorities include in this group:

A) People who have public health care and have updated their desplazado status with Spain’s social security system

B) People who have public healthcare who haven’t updated their desplazado status but are registered at a town hall in Murcia (padrón). These people should inform authorities so a local doctor can be assigned to them. 

C) Foreigners who have a European Health Card and that live in the region

D) People who have a mútua policy (a mutual insurance company), regardless of where their provincial health service is

E) People who are residents in Murcia who only have private health insurance. They must provide the documents that accredits this – the policy, residence document, rental contract etc

All the people listed above, including foreigners, will be incorporated into Murcia’s vaccine strategy and contacted according to the priority/age group they fall under. 

The town of Lorca in Murcia is home to around 21,000 foreigners. Photo: enriquelopezgarre/Pixabay

What else do foreigners in Murcia need to know?

Murcia’s Health Council goes on to talk in more detail about the Covid vaccine for foreigners, stating that “foreigners residing in the region who do not have a doctor assigned to them must update their details at the public health centre that corresponds to them”, usually the one closest to your address, “if their stay in Murcia region is longer than 6 months”. 

“If they have not officialised their status as residents” – (they use the term empadronados – registered at the town hall – rather than green certificate or TIE holders) – “they must request to be vaccinated and for this they will be provided with a web link from which they can request the vaccination through their consulate, their health centre or through the information number 900121212”.

Murcia authorities go on to explain how foreigners can also “regularise” their status by registering at their town hall in the region, and then getting a public doctor assigned to them. 

Foreigners who don’t have a doctor assigned to them on the day they get vaccinated should present their European Health Card, their passport or ID document and their padrón town hall certificate to prove that they are residing in Murcia. 

How about if I only have private health insurance?

Foreigners and Spanish nationals who only have private medical insurance should contact Murcia health authorities, who will refer them to a webpage where they can fill in their details.

The Local Spain is waiting for confirmation from Murcia’s Health Council that this is the webpage they should use, as it has been labelled “citación vacuna” (vaccine appointment).

On this page, Option 2  (Do you only have private healthcare?) and Option 3 (Are you someone who usually resides in another region but is temporarily without a health card? Or a foreigner residing in Murcia that’s never been to a public health doctor?) lead to application forms which appear to contain the relevant categories.

As mentioned earlier, they will have to provide details relating to their insurance policy and status in Spain on the application form for it to be evaluated. Once this has been confirmed, they will be contacted via phone call to schedule a vaccine appointment when it’s their turn. 

People who form part of mutual insurance companies have their details updated regularly and will be contacted for the vaccine by phone. It isn’t necessary for them to book an appointment. 

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Vaccine scramble: How Spaniards want Covid jabs more than other Europeans

Whilst the EU warns that unused doses due to vaccine scepticism are piling up, Spaniards of all ages want to achieve immunity against Covid-19 as soon as possible, the data shows. 

Vaccine scramble: How Spaniards want Covid jabs more than other Europeans
People queue to get the vaccine in Barcelona. Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP

In Spain, where the Covid-19 rollout has gone from one of the slowest in the EU to currently one of the fastest, pretty much everyone wants to get vaccinated. 

With priority groups almost fully immunised, Spain is still beating daily records with 600,000 to 700,000 doses administered every day. 

The spike in cases among the country’s young population has led several regions to bring forward jabs for teens and twenty-somethings ahead of people in their thirties.

Despite the apparent lack of concern for the pandemic witnessed  in packed squares and streets over the past weeks, young people who have been able to take advantage of the vaccine offer have headed en masse to the vaccination centres. 

When an Asturian youth called Ana Santos told a local newspaper that “after the elderly, it should be our turn to get vaccinated as it’s not as if people in their forties go out, is it?”, her comments went down like a tonne of bricks among this age group, who demanded it was their turn to reach full immunisation first. 

Vaccine scepticism hasn’t been a problem for Spain as it has been for other countries, with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen launching a warning recently that vaccine supplies are piling up, even though Brussels has reached its target of providing enough doses to fully vaccinate 70 percent of EU adults.

“If we look at the statistics, more and more doses remain unused,” von der Leyen told journalists in Strasbourg.

“This is linked to the fact that there is a greater distribution of vaccines, but in part also due to doubts about vaccination,” adding that it was crucial to reach the most sceptical parts of the population” in the face of the “worrying” presence of the Delta variant.

“Traditionally in Spain, we have had much less resistance or rejection towards vaccines, that’s always been the case,” vaccine expert at the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) Ángel Hernández-Merino told 20minutos. 

“In any vaccination programme, it’s vital to count on the population being willing to accept the vaccination”.

A June 2021 Eurobarometer study found that 49 percent of people in Spain want to get vaccinated “as soon as possible”, the highest rate in the entire EU (32 percent EU average). 

Whereas an average of 9 percent of EU citizens don’t ever want to get vaccinated, the rate in Spain is 4 percent.  Around 63 percent of Spaniards told Eurobarometer that they couldn’t understand why people are hesitant to get vaccinated and 71 percent said Covid vaccines are the only way for the pandemic to end. 

In Belgium, around a third of the population doesn’t want to get vaccinated.

In other countries where in the earlier stages of the Covid vaccination campaign it seemed  that available doses were easily used up it’s now becoming evident that sprinting through the age groups doesn’t guarantee that everyone is being vaccinated. 

Germany, the UK and the US, all seen as examples to Spain of how to quickly immunise a population, have all seen their campaigns slow down due to hesitancy and the summer holidays.

Spain’s Health Ministry doesn’t give data on how many people have rejected the vaccine and why, but stats do show that already more than half of the population (57.5 percent) have at least one dose and 43.3 percent are fully vaccinated. 

The Spanish government has stuck to its objective of vaccinating 70 percent of the country’s 47 million people before the end of August, even though it did fall short of its June target by more than half a million doses. 

Rather than vaccine scepticism, what’s been holding up Spain’s inoculation campaign have been doubts over the administration of second AstraZeneca vaccines and the decision to keep a reserve in case the country experienced delivery setbacks as it has in the past, with 2.9 million doses in storage reported in late June.