Spain receives its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12

The first shipment of 1.3 million Pfizer doses for children aged 5 to 11 arrives in Spain on Monday, with the vaccination campaign for young children set to start on Wednesday December 15th.  

A child, 11, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children
Wedneday December 15th will be the first day that children are allowed to receive the version of the vaccine designed for children aged 5 to 11 years old in Spain. (Photo by Andrej Ivanov / AFP)

Less than a week since Spain’s Health Ministry announced it will vaccinate children 5 to 11, the first shipment of these reduced doses for minors will arrive in the Spanish territory on Monday December 13th. 

Once in Spain, Sanidad (Spain’s Health Ministry) will distribute it to the country’s 17 regions and two autonomous cities. 

This first shipment had already been announced by Health Minister Carolina Darias in late November before the country’s Vaccination Committee and the Public Health Commission confirmed they would follow the advice by the European Medicines Agency vis-à-vis Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12. 

EXPLAINED: How Spain will vaccinate five to 11 year-olds against Covid

The first children in this age group to be vaccinated will be those aged 10 or 11 who are immunosuppressed or have other pre-existing health conditions. 

Each regional health authority will be responsible for organising its own vaccination strategy for this young age group, meaning that parents who wish to have their children vaccinated against Covid-19 will have to find out if in their region it’s necessary to book a cita previa (appointment) or if the modus operandi is different.

For the most part, vaccinations will be carried out at health centres, hospitals and vaccination centres but the Valencia Region, La Rioja, Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura have opted for also administering Covid-19 vaccines at schools.

Five other autonomies (Asturias, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Navarra and Murcia) have ruled out vaccinating children at their educational centres due to insufficient space at the premises and the fact that Covid-19 vaccination is an extracurricular activity which requires children to be accompanied by their parents, and therefore ensure their consent.

Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12 are voluntary as is the case for all other age groups.

The vaccine approved for children aged 5 to 11 is the Comirnaty (Pfizer / BioNTech) inoculation, reduced to 10 microgrammes, a third of that administered to adults.

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Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Spain’s Health Ministry on Thursday announced there will be a second Covid-19 booster shot offered to all age groups in the country, with the rollout likely to begin this autumn.

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to 'entire population'

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday announced that the country’s Public Health Commission, the body responsible for advising the ministry on Spain’s Covid vaccination strategy, has said there should be a fourth dose offered to all of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants. 

What hasn’t been fully decided yet is when the rollout will begin, although Darias did hint that it’s likely to take place during the autumn. 

“We’re waiting for the arrival of new vaccines adapted to Covid-19 variants by that date, as stated in the contracts we have signed with the pharmaceutical companies,” Darias said on La Sexta TV channel.

The decision also still requires full approval from the Public Health Commission. There’s unlikely to be a u-turn on the matter, although Spanish health authorities have at different stages of the pandemic taken some time to execute decisions they initially announced. 

Until now, only people over 80, those in care homes and people classified as vulnerable (cancer, HIV, transplant, dialysis patients) have been approved to have a second booster dose in Spain, which is milder than the initial two-shot vaccination given in 2021.

In April 2022, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) considered that at that time it was too early to speak of a fourth dose for all age groups, but they have given the go ahead to high-risk groups.

Around 50 percent of Spain’s population has had one Covid-19 booster dose (third dose), but the rates are lower among younger people.

Spain’s Public Health Commission is in favour of waiting to see how the country’s epidemiological situation evolves and for the new messenger RNA vaccines adapted to the new variants to be made available. 

These new serums are expected to be ready in October and the two pharmaceutical companies developing them, Pfizer and Moderna, have already submitted the results of their clinical trials to the European Medicines Agency.

Although for the past months Spain has only been counting Covid-19 infections in people aged 60 and over as well as serious cases, health authorities have recorded an increase in recent weeks. 

On Tuesday, they confirmed there were 36,133 new infections over the previous 7 days and 131 Covid deaths.

As part of its change of strategy towards the pandemic in recent months, the Spanish government has essentially treated Covid-19 like another endemic disease similar to the flu, deciding to remove quarantines for asymptomatic and mild cases, and after a long wait, relaxed indoor mask wearing rules.