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Spain’s Canary Islands allow residents of all ages to request appointment for Covid-19 vaccine

The archipelago is the first Spanish region to allow all its eligible residents to register for an appointment to get the Covid-19 vaccine, signifying another change in inoculation strategy between Spain’s territories.

Spain's Canary Islands allow residents of all ages to request appointment for Covid-19 vaccine
More than 30,000 people registered their details on the first day, crashing the Canary government website on several occasions. Photo: Miguel Riopa

Residents of the Canary Islands aged 16 and over can now fill in a form which will allow them to register for an appointment to get their Covid-19 vaccine, the Canary Health Council announced on Monday. 

They have to visit this website and include their full name, DNI or NIE and phone number. 

More than 30,000 people registered their details on the first day, crashing the Canary government website on several occasions. 

The applicants’ information will be compared with the database of Canary health cards and the patient will receive an SMS, within 24 to 48 hours, with the appointment – cita previa in Spanish – to be vaccinated at one of the vaccination points set up throughout the Canary Islands.

The appointment will be scheduled according to forecasts for the islands’ vaccination calendar and the opening of each vaccination age group, so younger adults shouldn’t necessarily assume they will be inoculated soon. 

Once these age groups have been announced, applicants will be able to change their appointment if they wish. 

READ ALSO:

The Canary Islands’ government recently confirmed that foreigners who don’t have access to public healthcare can register their contact details at local health centres so that they also can be called up for the vaccine. 

“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,” the British Embassy in Madrid explained.  

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

Spain’s 17 regions are responsible for managing their own Covid-19 vaccine strategy, which has led to disparities in the way people are contacted to get the inoculation, determining whether they can book an appointment and which age groups are called up when.

Andalusia, Madrid, Navarre, Aragón and the Canary Islands are so far the regions allowing some of their inhabitants to book an appointment to get vaccinated, but aside from in the Canary Islands they have to be part of the age or priority groups being vaccinated.

The Valencian region, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Andalusia are the only autonomous communities to have started vaccinating their under 40s.

Spanish health authorities have so far administered one dose to 35.2 percent of the country’s 47 million-strong population and 17.1 percent have received the full inoculation. 

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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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