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COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable people

Spain is making available a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable citizens, including those with cancer, who have had a transplant or are receiving dialysis, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable people
People queue outside a vaccination centre in Barcelona. Around 120,000 people in the Covid high risk group will soon be able to receive a fourth dose. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP

The ministry said the dose would be given five months after a third dose.

The decision affects 120,000 people in Spain.

For the population as a whole, a third dose will from now on be available for those aged 18 and above rather than the previous age floor of 40, and from five months after the second dose rather than six as previously.

Countries such as Chile and Israel have already started administering a fourth dose to the general population under the premise that it increases by five the number of antibodies against the virus, but in Spain some virologists are not convinced by this approach. 

“From a basic immunological standpoint, it makes no sense that in little more than a year a fourth dose is being considered,” immunologist Alfredo Corell told Spanish broadcaster RTVE.

“The aim of being vaccinated is to generate memory, not to generate antibodies.

“As long as we have T cells, which are the ones that coordinate the immune response, there isn’t a problem. At most it will take five days, in which we will experience a mild or moderate reaction, a cold”.

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

Spain has been in the global vaccination vanguard with 90.5 percent of the population aged 12 and above jabbed to date.

In addition, Spain, which has logged 90,508 deaths and 7.7 million cases during the pandemic, has given at least one dose to 38.5 percent of children aged five to 11.

In terms of the reinforcement dose, around 34 percent of the eligible population in Spain has so far received a Covid booster shot to date.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain set to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to over-80s

As Spain prepares to remove masks in most indoor public spaces, health authorities are planning to soon offer a second Covid-19 booster dose to people over 80 and those in care homes.

Spain set to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to over-80s

According to a report by Spain’s Vaccine Committee published on April 18th, Spanish health authorities will most probably start to offer a second booster dose to over-80s and care home residents in early May 2022.

Until now, the fourth dose has only been made available to around 120,000 people in Spain classified as vulnerable, including people with cancer, HIV patients, those who have had a transplant or are receiving dialysis.

The decision, which still has to be finalised by Spain’s Health Ministry, comes as the national government prepares to scrap the rule on April 20th which requires mask wearing in indoor spaces.  

READ MORE: Where will you still need to wear a mask indoors in Spain?

On April 6th, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) backed a second booster dose for over-80s, but added that it was “too early to consider using a fourth dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax) in the general population”.

Around 50 percent of Spain’s population has had a Covid-19 booster dose (less potent than the inital two-dose vaccination), but the rates are lower among younger people.

The Spanish government has changed its stance towards the pandemic in recent weeks, essentially treating Covid-19 like another endemic disease similar to the flu, and focusing its efforts on reducing infections in high-risk groups rather than among the general population as whole.

Sánchez’s administration has decided to stop counting and reporting on each and every case,  removed quarantines for asymptomatic and mild cases, and after a long wait, relaxed indoor mask wearing rules (in force from April 20th). 

Other countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France have already started offering an extra booster dose to its elderly population and those with weakened immune systems.

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