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 fourth dose vaccine covid
Around 50 percent of Spain’s population has had one Covid-19 booster dose (third dose), but the rates are lower among younger people. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

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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Ryanair strike in Spain: Cancellations could continue until January

A cabin crew strike at Ryanair in Spain, which began in June causing hundreds of flight cancellations and delays, will continue until January 2023 with regular 24-hour work stoppages, two workers' unions said Wednesday.

Ryanair strike in Spain: Cancellations could continue until January

The series of rolling strikes over pay and working conditions at Ryanair in Spain – where there are some 1,900 employees — began on June 24th as European schools started breaking for the summer.

There were initially six days of planned strikes, called by the USO and SITCPLA unions, but they decided earlier this month to extend the strike until July 28.

The stoppages affect 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair has bases.

“Ryanair has not made the slightest attempt to reconcile with the unions” and “having publicly demonstrated its refusal to engage in any dialogue”, the USO and SITCPLA “are forced to extend” the strike, the unions said.

Another 24-hour strike is planned during the week starting August 8th.

Similar actions will take place “until January 7th”, a period of five months, the unions said in a statement.

The Spanish strikes are one of a series of similar walkouts in other European countries, at a time when the aviation sector hoped to move on from the Covid pandemic.

Hundreds of flights have been delayed and cancelled.

READ MORE: Ryanair strike – Which flights to and from Spain have been cancelled?

Ryanair has insisted the action has had little impact on the company’s activity in Spain. The Irish airline claims to carry the largest number of passengers in the Spanish market with more than 650 routes in the country.

Ryanair is the only international company in Spain not to have a collective agreement, the unions say.

Negotiations on working conditions with staff began eight months ago.

Discussions ended with an agreement with the CCOO union, which represents a smaller number of workers. USO and SITCPLA rejected the deal, judging it to be insufficient to meet staff’s needs.

In addition to better working conditions, the unions demand the return to work of 11 striking employees dismissed in the last month.