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VACCINE

Spain approves Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine for under 60s

Spanish health authorities have authorised the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for more of its population and priority groups, with people aged 50-59 and those classified as vulnerable expected to be offered this vaccine first.

Vials of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be seen next to a box. Austria will rollout booster shots for J&J recipients. Photo by DIRK WAEM / BELGA / AFP) / Belgium OUT
Photo: DIRK WAEM/BELGA/AFP

Spain’s Health Ministry announced on Tuesday afternoon that the country’s Public Health Commission had authorised the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, usually referred in the Spanish press as la vacuna Janssen, to its under 60s. 

Prior to this decision, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had only been assigned to those aged 70 to 79 years of age.

People aged 50-59 as well as those who fall into vulnerable groups due to health and other conditions expected (all ages) will be the first new groups to receive these inoculations.

“Since this vaccine only requires one dose, it has important advantages for its use from the point of view of feasibility and efficiency of health resources for certain groups that are difficult to reach and vaccinate, either because they’re not in the health system (for example, homeless people), or due to the need to send healthcare personnel to private homes, or because they are groups that can’t go the health centre due to other reasons (certain work activities, such as workers at sea, NGO workers who travel to high-risk areas), ” Spanish health ministry sources explained.

Spanish health authorities will then work down and continue administering the one-dose vaccine to other specific groups even if they are younger, although which ones exactly have not yet been confirmed. 

People aged 50 to 59 are currently receiving the Pfizer vaccine in most regions, so those who have received the first dose already will not be given the J&J inoculation. 

People under 60 who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be included in this part of Spain’s vaccine campaign either, and will have to wait until the end of May for Spain’s Public Health Commission to decide if they are included in the J&J group. 

The announcement marks the seventh change to Spain’s vaccine strategy, given the stops and starts which have been caused by side-effect concerns of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines.

Last April it was decided that the Janssen/J&J vaccine would only be for the 70 to 79 age group after some very rare blood clot cases affected six women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 48. 

Spain is yet to announce which vaccines it will give to its population aged 40 to 49.

READ MORE:

Covid-19 vaccine for under 60s in Spain: What you need to know

Member comments

  1. I am wondering if anyone outside of the EU who has a NIE and is 60 or older has been called to get a vaccine yet.

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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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