Will Spain give a Covid booster shot to people of all ages?

Health workers vaccinate people against Covid-19 at the Donostia Arena former bullring in San Sebastian on May 31, 2021. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)
Most Spanish vaccine experts have rules out the need to give Spain's adult population a third dose or Covid booster shot. Photo: Ander Guillenea/AFP
Spain's Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that so far one million people have received Covid-19 booster shots in the country, but will adults of all ages soon be eligible?

So far, Spain’s Health Ministry has approved Covid-19 booster shots for only those over 65, immunosuppressed people and residents of care homes will be given a Covid-19 booster shot.

On Tuesday November 2nd, Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón said that he was against the idea of administering Covid-19 booster shots “in general” as “it seems that immunity lasts for years”. 

Instead, he has advocated “giving them [the Covid-19 booster shots] to third world countries”.

Simón also expressed his doubts about inoculating those under 12 years of age – a group that “is little affected by the disease,” he said.

Last July, Spain’s Health Minister suggested that a “third reinforcement vaccine” against Covid-19 and potentially even more vaccinations every year from now on would be a possibility, although she has since said that the booster campaign would be “dynamic” and would incorporate new age groups based on scientific evidence.

READ ALSO – Getting a Covid-19 booster shot in Spain: What you need to know

What do the Spanish experts say?

Researchers from the Spanish Immunology and Vaccination Societies agree with Simón, saying that the general population should not receive a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot. 

Carmen Cámara, spokesperson for the Spanish Immunology Society said: “It is not necessary, it seems to me, a defeat for the health systems of the first world”.

“I find it unfortunate because we are protected, the protection endures and I do not understand why a booster is needed,” she added. 

The president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinations, Amos José García Rojas, also agreed, saying: “There is no need because we are seeing the efficacy of the vaccine in the results and also the epidemic situation is good”. 

He does however believe that it makes sense to give the booster “to everyone over 65 years of age because the immune system weakens over the years and there the quality of the protective response could be stimulated”. 

READ ALSO: EU medicines agency approves Covid-19 booster vaccine for all adults

Fornightly Covid-19 infection rate across the EU on October 28th 2021. Map: European Center for Disease Prevention and Control
Fornightly Covid-19 infection rate across the EU on October 28th 2021. Map: European Center for Disease Prevention and Control

What does the EU say?

The comments by Spain’s virologists come despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency has given its approval for a Pfizer Covid-19 booster for all adults in order to increase immunity levels.

“The CHMP [Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use] has evaluated data for Comirnaty [Pfizer] showing a rise in antibody levels when a booster dose is given approximately six months after the second dose in people from 18 to 55 years old,” read the EMA statement.

“On the basis of this data, the Committee concluded that booster doses may be considered at least six months after the second dose for people aged 18 years and older.”

Despite this new data provided by the EMA saying that immunity increases with a booster shot, Cámara believes that “this is evident, but the question is whether it is necessary.”

Each country in the EU  is in charge of implementing its own policy towards Covid-19 booster shots and it seems that for the moment Spain, which has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe currently, has for now ruled out the need to give one to the general population. 

In Germany, health authorities are giving a booster to those who received J&J or AstraZeneca as well as younger people who care for vulnerable people.

In the UK, anyone over 50 and those who care for vulnerable people can also get a booster shot, while in Italy all adults are likely to get a third dose in January 2022, authorities have announced. 

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