Spain approves third dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-70s

Spain approves third dose of Covid-19 vaccine for over-70s
Delfina, 103, is vaccinated against Covid-19 in a car outside the Donostia Hospital in San Sebastian on February 24, 2021. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)
Spain's Health Ministry has said it will give third doses of coronavirus vaccines to over-70s starting in late October, hoping to improve their protection against Covid-19.

Spain’s National Public Health Commission on Tuesday decided to offer the booster jab vaccinations from October 25th to elderly people who received a second vaccine dose more than six months ago, the ministry said in a statement.

Almost 7 million people in Spain fall into the over 70s category and their booster vaccines will be either Pfizer or Moderna.

Many people aged 70 to 79 received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April, meaning they will have to combine Covid-19 vaccines, something which hasn’t been common during Spain’s Covid inoculation campaign. 

Spain had until now only offered third doses to care home residents and some people with compromised immune systems.

“The aim is to increase protection of the most vulnerable,” the ministry said.

Europe’s medicines watchdog on Monday approved a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for over-18s, against a background of fears their protection against the virus could diminish over time.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also approved booster doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna shots for seriously immunocompromised people.

More than 15 countries worldwide have begun issuing third doses, including in European Union nations including France, Italy and Germany.

Eyeing a potential winter resurgence of Covid, some countries did not wait for EU authorities’ approval for their schemes.

Around 87 percent of people in Spain over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias also recently announced that in the second half of October people across Spain will be able to get their flu jab. 

“No more than ever, it’s important to get the flu vaccine,” Darias said with regards to high risk groups in particular, as the compounded effect of contracting the Covid-19 virus and the flu virus poses a serious threat to them. 

Spanish health authorities recommend the flu vaccine for people over 65 years of age, for those aged between 6 months and 65 years with pre-existing conditions and those who spend time regularly with people in these high-risk groups.

“They’re inactivated vaccines against influenza which contain fractions of the virus or viral proteins, therefore they do not contain live viruses and cannot cause influenza”, Spain’s Health Ministry writes.

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