The beginning of the campaign to inject the fourth dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 to those over 80 years of age in Galicia has been accompanied by criticism for the use of large venues, the so-called ‘vacundromes’, located in cities, to administer the medication. This forces these people, in some cases with mobility problems, to have to move. In the previous doses, this group was cited in health centers or continuing care points close to their home.
The association For a Living Galician Interior has denounced what it considers a “double discrimination, geographical and economic”, by the Galician Health Service (Sergas) for the elderly living in rural areas. In this context, he points out, the elderly are forced to travel tens of kilometers. Many of them need someone to accompany them, but the lack of regular public transport means that they have to resort to taxis. This, they emphasize, “shoots up the cost” and makes it even “unaffordable for pensioners from Lugo and Ourense”, whose pensions are in the queue in the State.
With this system, they denounce that there have been situations such as a 104-year-old resident of Chantada (Lugo) having been summoned by SMS, a technology to which he is not used, to go to Monforte to be vaccinated or that people who live in the mountain of Lugo has to assume a journey of an hour by car to reach the hospital in Lugo. People with reduced mobility also have difficulties accessing these centers.
The alternative that the Xunta de Galicia has given to those who cannot attend the appointment is to wait for the ‘repechages’ to open, which will be in health centers. For the association, this “demonstrates the chronic neglect and lack of investment in primary care” and leaves people over 85 years of age in rural areas facing the dilemma of facing displacement or waiting, exposing themselves to the virus at a time when they are picking up the cases and knowing that the seriousness is greater in their age group.
The Minister of Health, Julio García Comesaña, has defended that the enclosures to vaccinate those over 80 have improved accessibility and has said that the repechages will begin “soon”, but he has not specified a date. The vaccination campaign for this age group started last Friday, once the fourth dose was administered in the residences. The councilor has once again asked people to attend the appointment in the face of rising infection data.
The BNG has also charged against the strategy of the Xunta for this fourth dose and has asked the Galician president, Alfonso Rueda, to rectify to allow those over 80 years of age to be vaccinated in health centers to save them the long journeys, with what they imply “of inconvenience, expenses and restlessness”. “It is unacceptable because what must prevail is well-being and their right to health,” said Ana Pontón.
The training has received complaints about the matter and has given as an example the case of a nonagenarian from Rodeiro (Pontevedra) who has to travel to the Cidade da Cultura in Santiago de Compostela and has an appointment at 8:00 p.m. “Does anyone think that this is the treatment that a 90-year-old person should receive?” criticizes Pontón. He has added that for those who live in A Fonsagrada (Lugo) the displacement depends on a family member or close friend who can take them or pay for a taxi to Lugo, something that can mean around 100 euros.