‘Book vaccine appointment rather than wait for our call’, several Spanish regions ask residents 

'Book vaccine appointment rather than wait for our call', several Spanish regions ask residents 
Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP
Five of Spain’s regions are now allowing their inhabitants to call to book an appointment to get their Covid-19 vaccine, marking an important change in the process as up to now citizens had to wait to get called up for the vaccine. 

Andalusia, Madrid, Navarre, Aragón and the Canary Islands are now allowing their inhabitants to book an appointment to get vaccinated, as long as they form part of the age or priority groups being vaccinated.

This marks a change in tactics for regional health authorities, who are now increasingly seeking to speed up the pace of vaccination by allowing certain groups to plan ahead when they want to get vaccinated.

In Andalusia for example, people aged 57, 58 and 59 years old can now make an appointment to receive their first dose of the vaccine, by either calling, going to the Andalusian Health System website or through the regional health app.

In this case, the time slot will be given according to the vaccine doses available and the system will only allow people to book the first appointment, since the second will depend on the interval established for the vaccine that has been used. For Pfizer this is 21 days whereas for Moderna it is 28 days.

The intention of Andalusian health authorities is to eventually offer the booking option to all age groups, to at least run it side by side with their own system of calling or messaging people to come in to get vaccinated. 

This hybrid system is already in place in Navarre and Aragón, where over 60s who have ‘fallen between the cracks’ and not been called up can phone to get the vaccine.

In the Canary Islands, those born in 1957 can now book their own appointments and in the Balearics 60 to 69 year olds can use the BitCita system to book their vaccine, or if they’re not very savvy with computers they can book through their local pharmacies. 

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Madrid was in fact the first region in Spain to allow their citizens to take the initiative in terms of getting vaccinated, although so far it’s been for only over 70s who can call up their health centres to book. 

As for the regions where residents still have to wait for a call, text or email to be summoned to their local health centre, these include Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Asturias, the Valencia Region and Murcia. 

But more than four months into Spain’s vaccine rollout the general trend is towards offering a broader range of ways in which people can ensure they get the vaccine.

By ‘liberating’ its vaccine modus operandi Spain is following in the footsteps of countries such as France, where President Macron recently announced next-day appointments can be booked by anyone over 18, all of whom will be eligible for the vaccine in June.

Although Spanish health authorities will be focusing their efforts on giving the first dose to their 12 million over 60s in May, and the second dose to those in the older age groups, people aged 50 to 59 are now being vaccinated in some regions. 

These include Andalusia, Murcia, Navarre and Aragón, which began last week, and the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Catalonia and the Valencia region are expected to start with their under 60s this coming week. 

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