The European Union has stagnated around 80% of those over 80 immunized against COVID-19. The continent has 78% of its elderly with a complete regimen and 81% with at least one dose. The percentage has not increased since mid-June, with data from the European Center for the Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, which is missing those of Germany. Spain, however, already reached almost 100% of the population of that age in May. This week Spanish nurses crossed a barrier and are already proportionally giving more doses per day than those in the United States. In doses administered with respect to the total population, we are immediately behind major references, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel, Chile, the United Kingdom.. But we surpass Germany, the US, Italy or France. We have already exceeded 50 million doses and next week it is expected to reach 50% of the population immunized with the full regimen.
Young people begin to be vaccinated: the challenges of reaching the population with the lowest risk and highest incidence
France is one of the countries in the average, it has 80% of the elderly vaccinated. This week the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had to come out to announce that vaccination became mandatory for health professionals if they did not want to be fined. They have until September 15, and so far only 60% have been punctured. Macron has also expanded the requirements with the health passport: the vaccine will have to be accredited to access bars and restaurants.
In Spain, none of these measures have been necessary to convince people. It was never considered to make vaccination compulsory. Only now, with the very high incidence among young people, in areas such as Galicia will PCR or complete guidelines be requested to access nightlife. But the health workers were well vaccinated, and 90% of those over 40 have attended the appointment. With the turn of the young people open, for now, there are no signs that rejection among them will increase, although it is assumed that it may be somewhat higher due to having less perception of danger from the virus. The reluctance here has been below even what the most optimistic thought, staying around 80% would have been expected. Experts believe that the success is due to a historical tradition of trust between patient and doctor, and the strength of our public health system. Also because the issue has escaped polarization. No political party has dared to openly call not to be vaccinated.
“The culture of vaccination in Spain is very good, especially in childhood ages,” recalls the nurse Inmaculada Cuesta, part of the Vaccine Conference that decides on the national strategy. With the toilets, sometimes they have not reached good coverage for the flu, they have remained at percentages of even 30%. But this time “they have realized that the only way not to die from a virus like this was vaccination. That it was a protection for them and for the vulnerable people they treat,” they did not need to be convinced. The Ministry of Health planned a campaign aimed at them in December, in case there was not a good response as with the flu, but finally it never existed.
Cuesta does suggest that, if necessary, decisions such as those in Galicia can be made, not to let people enter discos without vaccination; or even more extreme, such as the raffles held in the US to attract people to the centers. But, at the moment, they are not so necessary. “There is a very good vaccine culture here, and that is not achieved in a month, a year, or five,” says José Antonio Forcada, president of the Nursing and Vaccine Association, “therefore, it is an objective that with this culture we have had a better predisposition than in other countries, such as France, despite all the obstacles “. Forcada refers with “obstacles” to the confusion that occurred with the second dose of AstraZeneca / Oxford, since the pattern of the generation between 60 and 69 has not yet been completed. And he mentions that in the trust between the patient and the doctor the capillarity of the health system, the health centers, is key. In France the model is bismarckianIn Spain we have the National Health System, as in the United Kingdom.
It will be enough?
And, at the current vaccination rate, can we stop the fifth wave with vaccines? Now those under 30 are starting to be cited, and it will take a minimum of two months to complete the vaccination schedule for all those under 40 years of age. “It will be important to achieve this before young people return to schools and universities, and for that, restrictions and good vaccination coverage will be necessary for them simultaneously,” says Forcada. “Acquiring immunity is not immediate, it takes at least two weeks from the second dose. We will achieve it more in the medium term, not during the summer, more towards the autumn,” adds Pedro Gullón, member of the Spanish Epidemiology Society.
“We cannot put all our hopes in vaccinating young people”, believes Mario Fontán Vela, a doctor specializing in preventive medicine, “in that sense we were late due to the deadlines with which immunity is generated. But it was necessary to do so. To vaccinate due to differential risk, it made no sense to have vaccinated young people before because summer was coming. We have to vaccinate as soon as possible so that it can take effect as soon as possible, but vaccination alone will not stop this. ” Then, with the young people covered, at least at a high level, Gullón ditch that “it will be difficult for the increase to continue, at least it is unlikely that there will not be a large increase. Although we will continue with outbreaks in the unvaccinated population, not only by age, but by people without access to the health system. This will last a relatively long period. ”