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Reader question: Can tourists in Spain get a Covid-19 booster vaccine?

Union Jack-themed British tourists walk past the mobile Covid-19 vacination centre at Benidorm tourist office on November 18th,
Union Jack-themed British tourists walk past the mobile Covid-19 vacination centre at Benidorm tourist office on November 18th, 2021. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)
As Spain’s Covid-19 booster shot campaign gathers pace, we answer a question we’ve been receiving from readers who want to get their first two doses or reinforcement vaccine while on holiday in Spain. 

With almost 90 percent of Spain’s eligible population fully vaccinated and hundreds of thousands of doses in storage or donated to other countries, it would be easy to think that Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots are readily available in the country for everyone, including foreign visitors. 

Spain’s Covid vaccination is handled entirely by the public health system, meaning that it’s not possible to visit a private health centre and pay to get your vaccine of choice or a booster shot. 

Foreign residents in Spain who only have private health insurance were eventually able to register on their regional public health system to get their inoculations, and Spanish nationals and residents of all ages who didn’t get vaccinated initially can do so now without having to wait.

But overall Spain’s vaccination campaign has been meticulously organised and not been lax with the rules.

No better example of this is the fact that with the country’s Covid-19 booster rollout happening now, the same rigid order of preference by age and risk groups is again being applied.   

So overall, it seems unlikely that tourists can expect to get a booster vaccine or initial two-dose vaccine treatment in most places in Spain, although there are a couple of exceptions.

During August, authorities in the southern region of Andalusia started to allow foreign tourists spending more than a month in the region to get a Covid vaccine at their closest health centres without the need to book an appointment.

These temporary vaccination points where people don’t need a cita previa (prior appointment) are listed here , including in places such as Malaga and Marbella (Costa del Sol), Seville, Granada, Almería and other Andalusian cities. 

It may be necessary to enquire in person or call up to make sure they are currently offering this service as it’s only meant to be temporary and it’s unclear whether they’re equipped and authorised to administer booster shots.

A woman stands outside a vaccination centre, during a vaccination campaign for foreign tourists in Benidorm, on November 18, 2021. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)
A woman stands outside a vaccination centre, during a vaccination campaign for foreign tourists in Benidorm, on November 18, 2021. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)
 

The other reported exception is Benidorm, the popular tourist spot that British tourists in particular love. 

Authorities in the small coastal city have set up a temporary vaccination point at Benidorm’s tourist information centre in the neighbourhood of Rincon de Loix. 

“This is a public service we want to extend to our tourists,” Benidorm mayor Antonio Pérez told news agency Reuters.

Their aim is to get as many tourists who have not been vaccinated at all against Covid-19 to get their first shots, as health centres in the city and other parts of the Costa Blanca are currently seeing a spike in hospitalisations among unvaccinated foreigners.

So overall it seems that getting a Covid-19 booster shot isn’t straightforward if you’re a non-resident tourist in Spain, although it’s often up to the discretion of the individual province, city or even health centre in the country, it might still be worth asking.


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