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Spain starts fourth Covid vaccine rollout for over-80s

Spain starts fourth Covid vaccine rollout for over-80s
The flu vaccination campaign focuses on people older than 65, but the vaccine is recommended to all. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Spanish health authorities started offering a second Covid-19 booster dose to people over 80 and those in care homes on Monday September 26th, a campaign which also includes the flu vaccine for those who wish to have it.

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In early September, Spain's Public Health Commission marked September 26th 2022 in the calendar as the start date for their fourth vaccine rollout for over-80s and care home residents in Spain. 

As planned, the campaign has started in all Spanish regions on that date, except for in Andalusia, where it will begin on October 3rd.

The vaccines to be used will the new inoculations developed by Moderna and Pfizer against the Omicron BA.1 sub-variant, serums approved by the European Medicines Agency on September 1st. 

"(They) can extend protection against different variants and are therefore expected to help maintain optimal protection" against COVID-19 as the virus evolves, the EMA said.

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The inoculations "target the Omicron BA.1 sub-variant in addition to the original strain" of the coronavirus, the Amsterdam-based agency added in a statement.

Around ten million of these doses have been delivered to Spain in the past weeks, a sufficient amount to inoculate the 2.8 million people in the country who are above the age of 80.

The plan is to offer a second booster dose to the rest of the population, moving progressively down from oldest to youngest, with over-60s next in line. 

People aged 80 or older as well as those in care homes who have had Covid-19 since their last vaccination against the coronavirus are advised to wait until three months after their infection before getting a second booster dose.

It's taken several months for the Spanish government to decide when to offer additional booster doses to its geriatric population, as the Health Ministry confirmed there would be a second Covid-19 booster for them on June 9th and the decision had been in the pipeline since April, but they argued that “the most appropriate moment must be established according to the epidemiological situation”.

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.

Spain's Health Ministry wanted all of the country's 17 regions to kick off their flu vaccination campaign on the same day - September 26th - but not all autonomous communities have received the necessary flu vaccine doses for this double inoculation campaign to go ahead on time.

This means that regional authorities across the country will begin their joint flu and Covid vaccination campaigns on different dates in late September or throughout the month of October. 

In Andalusia the Covid-flu vaccination campaign starts on October 3rd, in Aragón and Navarre on October 10th, in the Balearics on October 13th, in Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia and Castilla y León all on September 26th, whereas in the remaining regions the date for the double vaccination campaign is not yet known.

Around 54 percent of Spain’s population has had a Covid-19 booster dose (less potent than the initial two-dose vaccination), but the rates are lower among younger people.

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