Monday, May 16

Spain will prioritize the vaccination of refugees against COVID-19, measles and polio

The Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities have approved a common guide for health care for displaced persons who have fled from Ukraine due to the Russian invasion so that the treatment is “homogeneous” and “coordinated” throughout the territory, the minister advanced this Thursday. of the branch, Carolina Darias.

This is the first center in Spain created to receive refugees from Ukraine

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Refugees fleeing the war will have access to all the vaccines on the Spanish calendar, although injections against coronavirus, measles and polio will be “prioritized”, according to the document given the green light this Friday by the Commission of Public health. Ukraine has a low vaccination rate against SARS-CoV-2: the number of people with two doses only reaches 35% (compared to the average of 71% in the EU and 90% in Spain) and is not higher either in older people.

The vaccination schedules for other pathologies do not coincide between the two countries, so that an “individualized assessment” of each case will be made. Refugees will be offered the chance to be vaccinated against measles and polio, if they are not vaccinated, because of “their higher prevalence in Ukraine,” the document says. For children and adolescents, the calendar also includes injections against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae b (flu).

Communities are obliged to inform refugees that they can receive health care and to guarantee them access to services equal to that of the local population. Pregnant women and children will have a special follow-up: the former will be referred to Obstetrics to monitor the pregnancy and the minors will undergo the appropriate check-ups in Pediatrics and it will be checked what vaccines they have. The guide recalls that “maternal and reproductive health and neonatal and child health” have been affected by “the interruption of care and the difficulties in accessing essential health services, especially primary care, and medicines” with the outbreak of the conflict.

The authorities must assess situations of “dependence, physical or mental disability and the situation of fragility and vulnerability” of newly arrived people to refer them to the corresponding social services of each community to “manage the necessary aid”, dictates the guide.

Regarding anti-COVID-19 measures, displaced persons arriving by air from conflict zones will be exempt from the obligation to present a vaccination or recovery certificate to fly to Spain. The Foreign Health Services will carry out a control of symptoms upon arrival and, if they present them, an antigen test will be carried out.

Once in the reception centers, the protocol says that “there is a possibility of screening” displaced persons with symptoms, although always “according to the criteria established by each autonomous community.” The ideal is to be able to carry out a test in the center itself if there are resources for it, the document points out.

The approval that does not start

What does not finish starting the agreement is the new transition strategy to control and monitor COVID-19 after the acute phase. The turn in the management of the pandemic has not yet arrived while the authorities are keeping an eye on the change in the trend of the data. The fall of the sixth wave has stagnated and registered a slight rebound in the last week. The document was originally going to be debated on Tuesday, but the discussion was postponed to Thursday. An agreement was not closed then either and this Friday the debate has resumed.

Health sources explain that some “fringes” of the document that will limit, if there are no last-minute changes, isolations only to very specific cases (caregivers, nursing home workers, hospitalized people or residents) still have to be closed. For the bulk of the population they will no longer be mandatory.