Fully vaccinated people in Spain who get Covid now need to wait five months for booster

Spain’s Health Ministry has backtracked on its previous recommendation that those who were fully vaccinated who went on to catch Covid-19 should wait four weeks for their booster dose, now saying it should be five months instead.

Woman receiving third Covid vaccine in Spain
The vaccine mandate is set to automatically return in June - unless the government does something about it.

In the newest update of Spain’s Vaccine Strategy against Covid-19 announced on Tuesday, the Health Ministry now recommends postponing the third dose of the Covid vaccine until five months after recovery from Covid-19.

“Current evidence shows that having a SARS-CoV-2 infection, after having the complete primary vaccination schedule, leads to the development of a more powerful and broader immune response in terms of neutralising other variants of the virus, compared to the immune response observed in those who had only had a Covid-19 infection or who received only two doses of the vaccine,” the document stated.

As most of the Covid-19 infections in Spain are now due to the Omicron variant, the four-week wait for under-65s has now been changed.

“In people who received the complete vaccination schedule who later have symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, the interval between infection and administration of the booster dose will be a minimum of 4 weeks, but its administration is recommended five months after the diagnosis of the infection”, it continued.

READ ALSO: Where in Spain can people aged 30 to 39 book their Covid-19 booster shot?

What the experts say

The secretary of the Spanish Society of Immunology, Carmen Cámara said: “We must ask ourselves what we achieve with third and fourth doses. There is clear pressure from pharmaceutical companies”. 

In an interview on the program Aqui Cuní on SER Catalunya, Cámara also said that people who have been infected with the Covid omicron variant and were vaccinated, are the ones who have the best protection. 

“They have the best possible immunity, which is the hybrid immunity, which multiplies that of vaccines by almost 100 and also gives you a much broader repertoire. Whoever gets infected with omicron produces neutralising antibodies and memory cells against the rest of the variants, meaning they have the best immunity that can be achieved so far”, she continued.

What about children?

In the case of children aged between five and 11 who were infected with Covid-19 before they received their vaccine, a single dose will be given eight weeks after the diagnosis.

If the infection is diagnosed after the first dose, on the other hand, the second dose will be administered from eight weeks after the diagnosis of the infection, maintaining the interval of eight weeks with respect to the first dose.

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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.