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COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain approves Covid-19 booster shots for all people over 18

Spain’s Health Ministry on Thursday approved the Covid-19 booster shot for people aged 39 to 18 in the country, meaning that all adults in Spain are now eligible for a reinforcement dose. 

people under 40 can get a Covid-19 booster in Spain. Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP
People in their twenties and thirties can now get a Covid-19 booster in Spain. Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP

Spain’s Public Health Commission on Thursday morning gave the Health Ministry the go-ahead to approve Covid-19 booster doses for all over 18s in Spain, adding people in their thirties and their twenties to the public healthcare’s vaccination strategy. 

The move represents a big step for vaccination plans in the country, where so far around 34 percent of the population have had a booster, a lower rate than in other European countries such as Malta, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. 

Around 12 million people between the ages of 18 and 39 in Spain will now be able to get their reinforcement dose.

The previous update to the booster strategy was introduced on December 16th 2021 when two other age groups – over-50s and over-40s – were added at the same time to Spain’s booster plans. 

Several regions which had vaccinated the majority of their over-40s had recently been calling for the national government to approve the booster dose for people in the 30 to 39 age group. 

It is unclear yet whether the booster campaign for under 40s will follow a staggered approach – from oldest to youngest, one year at a time – as it has mainly been up to now, although regional authorities have the powers to adapt their strategy as they see fit.

Back in November, the European Commission requested that all Member States make Covid boosters available to all adults while prioritising over-40s, but Spain has waited until now to offer reinforcement doses to all over-18s.

The announcement comes as Spain’s infection rate is at its highest rate ever, with more than 3 in 100 people in the country having been infected with Covid-19 over the past two weeks.

So far, Pfizer and Moderna are the approved booster vaccines since the booster campaign started with people over 70 last October 2021.

People of all ages who were vaccinated with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen) could already receive their booster dose and under-40s with AstraZeneca have to wait three months from their second dose.

People who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines initially have to wait six months before getting their booster dose.

Spain’s Health Ministry also decided in early January that people aged under 65 who have been infected with Covid-19 will have to wait at least four weeks to receive their booster doses, something some health experts have said makes no sense as a person’s natural immunity is at top strength soon after recovering from the virus.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

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.

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