The summer has brought a noticeable slowdown in the rate of vaccinations against COVID-19 in Spain. Whether it is because of holiday travel, or because it is now necessary to repopulate the most careless, the numbers of weekly injections have fallen by 40% in August, and this has forced the autonomous communities to seek ways to not lose speed in the race towards herd immunity. Many of them opted first to attend directly without prior appointment, and now a few have also decided to advance the prick to those who passed the COVID-19 recently.
Positive and unvaccinated: mass infections among young people do not put herd immunity at risk
In the last week, at least nine autonomous communities have announced that they were lowering this waiting period for people to get vaccinated. Until now, according to the documents of the Ministry of Health, it was preferable to wait six months for all those who had passed the infection. But seven administrations have decided to reduce this minimum period to two months. This is the case of Catalonia, Euskadi, Navarra, Castilla-La Mancha, Comunitat Valenciana, Canary Islands and Extremadura. Aragon and Madrid, meanwhile, are the only ones who have gone further and has left it in a month.
In all cases will be administered a single dose. Also to those who had already received the first and were infected before the second. However, the change in the protocols does not affect those over 65 years, precisely because for them the situation will not change: since the beginning of the campaign, in case of infection they were injected the first dose just after passing the symptoms of the virus.
With this novelty in the vaccination strategy, in these communities, which represent about half of the Spanish population, all those who were infected between February and June and can go to their vaccination centers. Each administration already has the figures of how many new candidates this means. In Madrid, which has announced the measure this Friday in a statement, amount to about 120,000. In Euskadi, where for days they have been sending SMS to summon them, it is estimated that there would be about 60,000; in the Canary Islands, 34,000; in Aragon, 30,000; in Extremadura, about 7,000. In Catalonia, the Generalitat does not offer data.
The reason for this new change, which is also being discussed in other communities, such as Galicia, is purely strategic and logistical and has nothing to do with the evolution of the disease, according to experts agree. If before it took six months to vaccinate those who had passed the COVID-19 was because there was no vaccine for everyone and had to prioritize those who had no immune response. “At the beginning, the doses were what they were and it was preferable to vaccinate those who had no previous protection. Reducing the number of days between vaccinations makes it possible to reach more people at once and advance in overall coverage,” summarizes Amós García, president of the Spanish Vaccinology Association.
In mass vaccination points and in health centres there are starting to be free appointments – in the case of Navarre, the Public Health Institute itself acknowledged this – and this not only prevents the doses from being disposed of, but may also mean a waste of public resources earmarked for the campaign in August. The serums are not going to go to waste, but no one wants to have open congress fairs and stadiums full of nurses and nurses without taking full advantage of their potential.
This is how the rate of vaccination in Spain is evolving
Evolution of the number of new doses of Covid-19 vaccine administered in Spain. Figures are shown by date of notification
We have reached the target of 70% vaccination. At the rate of the last week, it would take us longer to vaccinate 80% of the population (with two doses)
Source: Ministry of Health
In parallel, another reason for accelerating the vaccination of newly infected is “better protect them” against the delta variant, says José Antonio Forcada, president of the National Association of Nursing and Vaccines. Although this professional also recognizes that the decisions of the autonomies are marked mainly by the need to “optimize” the doses and go “filling” vaccinations. “It is important to have this population protected, but they are not a very large group,” says Forcada.
With some nuances, all health administrations that have opted for this change have argued that it is a step to achieve group immunity more quickly. “It is not going to impede or preventdelay that a person still without having caught the infection can be vaccinated tomorrow,” wanted to reassure the Basque Deputy Minister of Health, José Luis Quintas. In the case of the Catalan Administration, also argued that this group, very young especially from the fifth wave, could have the full guideline just before returning to their daily activities: the work environment or the university and education.