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VACCINE

‘Foreigners with no public healthcare can now register for vaccine’: Spain’s Canary Islands confirms

Authorities in the Spanish archipelago hadn’t fully clarified what foreign residents without access to public healthcare should do to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Now those who only have private health insurance can take action to get an appointment.

'Foreigners with no public healthcare can now register for vaccine': Spain's Canary Islands confirms
The small coastal city of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife is home to many foreigners, especially Germans and Brits. Photo: Manfred Zajac from Pixabay

“We have been contacted by some of you who are living in the Canary Islands who do not have a ‘tarjeta sanitaria’ (public health card) – for example those of you with private health insurance – who have had difficulty registering for the Covid-19 vaccine,” wrote the British Embassy on Thursday May 13th. 

Brexpats in Spain head Anne Hernández also informed The Local Spain in recent days that Britons had contacted her to find out why the Canary Government hadn’t offered a solution to the problem of foreigners who aren’t on Spain’s public health system getting the jab. 

Other Spanish regions have either asked their extranjeros without a healthcard to either register at the town hall, contact their local health centre or get a temporary public health card, but it’s been an painstaking wait for many, especially for foreigners in the Islas Canarias

“The Canary Islands’ government has confirmed today that you should go to your local health centre to register your contact details,” the British Embassy in Madrid explained. 

“To do so you must show your identification documentation such as your passport and a padrón certificate to demonstrate that you are a resident in the Canary Islands. 

“Once registered, you will be issued an appointment for the vaccine according to the priority group you are in”.

According to the Canary government website, the vaccination campaign for people in the 50 to 59 age group has now started but those in their 60s are also receiving their first vaccine currently. 

Although it has been reported this week that people in the Canary Islands born in 1957 can now book their own appointments, Canary health authorities are not encouraging the public to call 112 to book a vaccine appointment.

Thursday’s announcement is excellent news for Britons on private health policies in the Canary Islands but also for other foreign nationals who don’t have access to public healthcare, as the vaccine isn’t available in private health clinics anywhere in Spain. 

The Canary Isles, which are made up of 8 islands including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, are home to 286,500 foreigners according to the latest figures by Spain’s National Statistics Institute. 

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Member comments

  1. Here in andulucia you are supposed to be able to register . The junta says you need to fill in a form and present it with NIE and passport to register your consent for data protection . The reality on the ground is the local health centre won’t accept the form with out ; NIE , padrón , passport and proof of being in the area for more than. 180 days . Completely defeating the object of the plan .

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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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