50% of the population in Spain has received the complete guideline against COVID-19. A milestone that places it in third place in the European Union, behind Malta and Hungary, and very close to the United Kingdom, so far the fastest neighboring country in its vaccination campaign. The target of 70% at the end of August is still present, but new difficulties have arisen associated with the delivery of the doses from Europe.
More than half of the Spanish population is already vaccinated with the complete guideline against the coronavirus
Some autonomous communities have had to delay the appointment of the younger groups to safeguard the second doses that are still pending. Others, like Madrid, have problems with both: last week it suspended all the first doses of Pfizer and this weekend they have also begun to postpone some of the second ones, despite having 300,000 vials of this brand stored without administration.
The explosion of the fifth wave has put the focus on the immunization of the youngest, who concentrate the bulk of infections. The problem is that Pfizer advanced in June a part of the batch that corresponded to July, and Spain faces 50% less doses than a month ago. Health warned that this consignment was going to be smaller, but some communities say that it represents an obstacle to their vaccination plans. “In June we managed to get an advance from Pfizer with a lot of effort and everyone had to do a correct planning to administer the first doses, being aware that in July it would return to previous levels,” Silvia Calzón, Secretary of State for Health, said this Monday.
All except Madrid. The Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, has asked “a little patience to those who pass from the 21st” and have not yet been summoned to complete their schedule. The Pfizer technical data sheet determines the second dose 21 days later and 28 in the case of Moderna. Delaying it is a strategy that neither health nor immunologists recommend. Amos García Rojas, president of the Spanish Association of Vaccination (AEV), believes that there are options to avoid falling into this situation. “The delta variant will continue to predominate and the most important thing is to end the second doses,” he bet. And “never, never” postpone them beyond what is established in the precept.
Health has announced the arrival of another 2.2 million doses this week. 1,765,640 from Pfizer and a progressive increase from Moderna –474,000 weekly doses during July, 913,000 in August and up to 1.2 million in September–. With this, the Ministry trusts that all communities have stock enough to guarantee the two punctures to its population. Also Madrid, because that is the strategy agreed by the Interterritorial Council.
“Madrid could administer some first doses but not at the rate it has done in the last weeks of June,” Calzón has reproached. The region opened self-appointment to the youngest at the beginning of July after lagging behind the others and despite not having the necessary provisions to combine both strategies. “The performance of other communities is so spectacular that Madrid has problems to be in that average and is always below, therefore with a higher stock of vaccines “, has added the spokesman of Health.
Although most communities have chosen to prioritize second doses, their pace has inevitably slowed. The decline in the Basque Country has led to the closure of its large vaccinations pending the new batch of vaccines. The fall is around 18%, especially in younger age groups, and coincides with an increase in infections and a sharp rise in hospitalized patients and ICU admissions. Only 17% of young people between 20 and 29 years old have received at least one puncture.
For its part, Andalusia has received 80,000 fewer doses this week than the previous one. Even so, it has decided to open the self-appointment on Tuesday to young people of 23 and 24 years old. Only 19% of Andalusians under the age of 30 have received a dose, but the Board does not believe that this new age cohort will pose a risk to guarantee the second doses that are due within three weeks.
Instead, Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y León have decided to step on the dating brake. The first has been announcing a shortage since the beginning of July, despite having opened the self-appointment system without having the stock necessary in certain health centers. More than 75,000 young people between the ages of 20 and 29 have received a dose, 35%, but the rate compared to other cohorts has slowed. “The arrival of vaccines does not depend on us, but on what Health sends us and more than a lack of vaccines, it is a logistics problem,” the regional government apologized.
The same happens in Castilla y León, although this community has preferred to keep appointments by age group. “We cannot take the doses from 55-year-old men and give them to 15-year-olds,” justified the spokesman, Francisco Igea. That also makes it one of the slowest in immunization of those under 30, with only 14% with one dose, while the cumulative incidence in that group does not stop growing. From 20 to 29 years old, the region has reported 3,592 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The vaccines are reaching us at a good rate, the prioritization criteria have to continue to be established and age is the element most clearly linked to vulnerability”, defends García Rojas. However, it also assumes that both strategies should “coexist” in regions where there is the greatest impact on their youth. “We must incorporate this group but in a very planned and rigorous way: that is, always put an adult of 30 before a young person of 18,” says Rojas. The reason is none other than the risk of hospitalization increases with age.
Health announced this Monday 65% more hospitalizations than last Monday. There are already 6,500 people admitted to the ward and 1,040 to the ICU, where the average age is 50 years. Most of the people who end up in intensive care did not have the complete schedule, were still unvaccinated or have vaccine failure, which according to Health greatly limits the severity of the symptoms. “We cannot risk this happening by incorrectly vaccinating people,” concludes the president of the Vaccination Association on the Madrid decision.
Information produced with the help of Alba Camazón (Castilla y León), Carmen Bachiller (Castilla La-Mancha) and Javier Ramajo (Andalusia).