Sunday, October 24

Catalunya admits that doses of the vaccine have expired by administering less than planned

The Catalan health authorities expected that, with the arrival of September and the end of the holidays, the vaccination rate would pick up again. But this has not been the case and has generated an added problem for those responsible for the immunization campaign: many of the doses that had been thawed for administration during this period are about to expire or have already had to be thrown away.

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The Secretary of Public Health of the Generalitat, Carmen Cabezas, has not given concrete figures of how many doses have been compromised by this forecast error. “Some are close to expiring and we are looking at how many there are,” he said. And later, during the same intervention, he added: “Some may have already expired, we do not have to quantify.”

Vaccination teams often thaw vials in anticipation of their appointments to administer the doses. Before, they would last out of the fridge for five days, but this period was extended to 30 days. “A dose increase was expected in September. We thought that the holiday effect would count and the forecasts and experts told us that there would be an increase in people who were vaccinated. But we have observed that this has not happened,” reported Cabezas. Currently the coverage in Catalonia with the two doses of the vaccine is 79% in people over 12 years of age.

Shortly before Cabezas’ statements, sources from the Department of Health of the Generalitat already recognized this situation, advanced by the newspaper El País. And they assured that it is a “shared” problem in all the autonomous communities. “This has led to the recent stoppage of the purchase of vaccines by the State,” added the same sources. For now, the purchase of weekly doses is suspended until September 20.

Coinciding with this surplus of thawed vaccines, the Generalitat today started the inoculation of the third dose to the elderly in nursing homes, as agreed in the Public Health Commission. Cabezas, however, wanted to decouple the speed when preparing these new injections for the users of these centers with the problem of stock.

“The idea was to start the sooner the better,” he defended. “We have always said that we want to use the best possible doses that we have and this is a very good use of them,” he continued. The first person to receive this third dose was the same one who put his arm in Catalonia for the first: Josefa Pérez, from the Feixa Llarga residence in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat.