UPDATE: What you need to know about getting a Covid-19 booster shot in Spain

Over the past weeks, more groups have been added to Spain's Covid-19 booster vaccine campaign. Who can now get a reinforcement shot in the country and which vaccines are used?

a nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 booster vaccine
So far, Pfizer and Moderna are the approved booster vaccines in Spain. (THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

Who will get a booster shot in Spain?

So far, Spain’s Health Ministry has only said the following groups should get a booster Covid-19 vaccine dose:

Over 70s – People over 70 in Spain must have completed their initial Covid-19 vaccination programme six months prior to receiving their third vaccine.

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

Over 60s – Spain’s Public Health Commission had initially proposed that over 65s be the following age group that gets a booster shot, provided again six months have elapsed since they completed their Covid-19 vaccination. On November 17th, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed the age limit would be dropped to those aged 60 and over.

Health workers – Spain’s approximately 900,000 health workers will also receive a Covid-19 booster vaccine, Spain’s PM confirmed. 

Those vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson – The 1.9 million people in Spain who received the single-dose J&J Janssen vaccine will be offered a booster shot.

Immunosuppressed people – This encompasses a large group of people with one or more of the following health conditions:

  • transplant patients (lung, kidney, pancreatic, heart, liver, and intestinal)
  • blood stem cell recipients
  • patients treated with monoclonal antibodies
  • multiple sclerosis
  • blood cancers and solid organ cancer
  • people with all types of primary immunodeficiencies
  • those with antibody formation defects
  • people with immunosuppressive treatments
  • those with renal replacement therapy
  • people with cystic fibrosis
  • people with Down’s syndrome 40 and over. 

READ MORE: Spain to approve third Covid-19 vaccine for immunosuppressed people

Care home residents – Elderly people in care homes, most of whom fall into the categories above, also form part of Spain’s initial Covid booster vaccine programme, given their profile of frailty, multiple pathologies and the closed environments in which they often live.

How is Spain’s booster shot campaign going?

The scheduled nationwide start for over 70s and the country’s immunosuppressed people was October 25th 2021, but as Spain’s regional health authorities can operate with a relatively high degree of freedom, many started their vaccine campaigns ahead of time to coincide with their flu vaccine campaigns.

As of November 17th, around 2.9 million people have received their booster dose in Spain. 

Booster vaccination campaigns have kicked off across the regions for all of the above listed groups apart from 60 to 65 year olds and health workers.

Getting the flu and Covid-19 vaccine at the same time is recommended for people who fall in the categories mentioned above as Spain’s Health Ministry warns that the “synergistic effect” of influenza and Covid-19 in the body multiplies the risk of death in case of coinfection by the two viruses.

In practice, this will see people get a shot on each arm, one for either vaccine, when they visit their local health centres. 

READ MORE: Getting the flu vaccine in Spain in 2021: What you need to know

In many parts of Spain, immunocompromised people have been able to receive a Covid booster shot since September, as the waiting period for a booster dose isn’t set at six months.

No end date has been set for Spain’s Covid booster campaign.

Which Covid-19 vaccines will be used in Spain as booster shots?

So far, Pfizer and Moderna are the approved booster vaccines in Spain, the latter having received approval as a booster shot by the European Medicines Agency on October 24th. The EMA has previously recommended a Moderna booster shot for immunocompromised patients.

Most over 70s received Pfizer doses in Spain’s initial Covid-19 vaccine campaign, a sizeable group were instead administered Moderna vaccines and a smaller number were given the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) inoculation. 

Those who received messenger-RNA doses – Pfizer and Moderna – will receive a booster shot of the same category.

In late October, Spanish health authorities confirmed that people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) inoculation would also receive a Pfizer or Moderna booster vaccine from November 15th, starting first with the older age groups. 

A booster dose with a messenger-RNA vaccine has also been assigned to people who received two AstraZeneca doses or one AstraZeneca and another Pfizer vaccine; if they fall within the above mentioned eligible groups. 

People in Spain who received an initial AstraZeneca vaccine were allowed to choose between a second dose of Pfizer or a second dose of the Oxford-Swedish inoculation following fears over AZ’s side-effects. The vast majority chose to stick by AstraZeneca for the second inoculation.

Is there a difference between a third dose and a booster dose?

In Spain it’s being referred to as la tercera dosis (the third dose) but for Spain’s Ministry of Health it’s an additional or booster shot. 

That’s because it serves to complete a vaccination programme that can be of several doses needed to generate a lasting immune response in a person’s body.

Reinforcement or booster doses are those that are administered after a period of time (six months in this case) of the first dose/s to make the body’s defenses remember how to act against the virus.

Do I have to book an appointment to get a Covid-19 booster shot in Spain?

As mentioned earlier, regional health authorities are responsible for organising each autonomous community’s booster shot campaign, so the modus operandi may vary between different parts of the country. 

In general terms however, getting a reinforcement dose does involve having to book a “cita previa” (prior appointment) by yourself through the website or app of your regional health department.

You may be prompted to book your appointment via a phone call or SMS from your regional health department, but if you are eligible for a booster shot the best option is to be proactive about it. 

Can foreigners in Spain get a booster shot? 

Covid booster shots are in the hands of Spain’s public health authorities, which means that foreigners who pay social security contributions and have access to the national health system will be able to get a booster shot in a similar way to how they received their initial Covid vaccination treatment in Spain. 

In most cases this will involve booking an appointment online using your health card number, and then going to the vaccination centre mentioned at the allotted time. 

Then there’s the case of foreigners with private health cover in Spain who were not initially included in the country’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign and which regional health bodies eventually incorporated into their vaccination programmes after in some cases they went months under the radar. 

Unfortunately, private health centres still don’t have access to Covid-19 vaccines in Spain and the eligibility criteria for people who don’t have access to public health continues to be in the hands of each regional health department. 

However, there is one exception. Authorities in the popular tourist town of Benidorm are offering Covid-19 shots to tourists staying in the seaside location. 

Will my Spanish Covid health pass reflect that I’ve had a third dose?

Yes. The Digital Covid Certificate issued by each of Spain’s 17 regions to people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 should reflect an update stating that the person in question has had a Covid-19 booster shot.

Member comments

  1. Hopefully the qr code will not be implemented here and people will be left alone. Not planning on getting any booster shots

  2. We just missed being able to get our booster jab in the uk by a few days and we are here for our 90 days – can we get a booster jab in Spain – obvioulsy we expect and are happy to pay for it – where could we go, who do we ask? Any pointers would be appreciated – Thanks

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Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

The Catalan Health Ministry has introduced a new way of asking for sick leave from work for those with Covid-19 symptoms. The leave will automatically be given for five days, without the need to present a positive test.

Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

Catalan Health Service Director Gemma Craywickel, along with the Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas, announced the move during a press conference on Tuesday.

Workers with Covid symptoms can now ask for sick leave from their job through the Meva Salut website, app or via the appointment website here, without the need to present a positive antigen or PCR test. The new service has been available since Tuesday, July 5th.

All that is needed is to log on with a CIP number and password or digital certificate and click on ‘altres servis’ (other services), followed by ‘Programar visites d’atenció primària’, where you usually make an appointment. 

Those who apply will automatically be given sick leave for the next five days, which will be confirmed via text message or e-mail.

If symptoms persist longer than five days, authorities say you should contact your local health centre to ask for the leave to be extended.

The move was introduced in a bid to take the pressure off local health services who attended 105,024 patients in the last week, 16 percent more than during the previous week.

Around 9.07 percent of people who visited hospitals in the region on Monday July 4th -15,817 patients – had symptoms compatible with Covid-19.

In addition, within the last four weeks, Catalan health services have seen 85 percent more patients with acute respiratory illnesses, thought to be a result of Covid-19 infections.

“The measure aims to free up resources for people who really them,” explained Craywinckel.

“It’s a way of simplifying administrative procedures. We already know what the symptoms are, so there is no need for the patient to explain to us face-to-face or over the phone,” she continued.

The number of Covid-19 infections in Catalonia has risen by 15 percent in the last week, with 2,032 hospital admissions, the highest number since mid-February 2022.

There have also been 51 Covid-19 patients admitted to Catalan ICUs in the last week.

Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas called on people to respect the requirement to continue wearing face masks on public transport and said that vulnerable people should keep wearing masks in indoor public spaces too. 

READ MORE: What are the specific mask rules for public transport and travel in Spain?

This is not the first time the Catalan health authorities have introduced an automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19.

A similar service was introduced earlier this year during the height of the sixth wave, with a seven-day leave period plus the need to present a positive Covid-19 test.

Andalusia also introduced a similar automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19 and a positive test back in February 2022.