Eight months after the first puncture against COVID-19, it is most likely that Spain will get the desired 70% of the vaccinated population this Wednesday or Thursday, an indicative percentage that when the campaign began alluded to the so-called ‘group immunity’ , but that the evolution of the virus has left out of date. However, this milestone in vaccination will not occur at the same time in all autonomous communities: nine of them have already been able to reach that percentage and others are late. Asturias, Galicia and Extremadura are leading the way and already have more than 7 out of 10 vaccinated citizens. At the other extreme, Madrid, Catalonia or the Balearic Islands – in addition to Ceuta and Melilla – have more problems reaching that 70% of people with the complete guideline.
Experts have already pointed out that sticking to a fixed percentage for ‘herd immunity’ to declare the ‘new normal’ was unrealistic: with new, more contagious mutations that percentage varies, which has never been a fixed number. Despite this, it is an indicative indicator that Spain is making progress in the immunization campaign against COVID-19, and that it remains on the list of countries with the best vaccination rate in the world.
This number of immunized people has been reached a little more than ten days behind what was predicted by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, who assured that 70% of those vaccinated would be reached on August 18. This is explained because we are at the worst level of doses administered since April. But not so much for lack of vaccines, as on other occasions, but for problems reaching more reticent strata, such as people who have gone on vacation to other communities in the summer, or those infected from the last wave who must wait to be vaccinated . However, this decrease in injected doses has been compensated with the new protocols, since many autonomous communities have adjusted their population figures with the full schedule in August by including in that group people who had passed COVID-19 and had a dose of the vaccine.
Among the communities the rate of vaccination is very different. While Andalusia was the last to join the list of territories that have reached the target percentage this Tuesday, others such as Asturias, Galicia and Extremadura surpassed it days ago. The latter are also some of the oldest autonomous communities, with which they have received more doses than the rest in the first months due to the protocol in the vaccination campaign, which privileged the most vulnerable. Although it is not the only reason why they have the highest percentages of people with the complete pattern.
The most advanced communities
On August 12, Asturias became the first autonomous community to reach that 70% of the vaccinated population. Now, that percentage of people with the complete guideline rises to 78.7%: “In Asturias, 100% of what arrives before the end of the week is being put in.” This is how the Minister of Health of the Principality, Pablo Fernández Muñiz, explains the success of Asturias in the vaccination campaign.
In the final stretch of the campaign, Health of the Principality is intensifying the recruitment of the population pending to receive the vaccine. “Last week began the opening of the self-appointment system for those over 12 years old who initially rejected immunization or with whom it has not been possible to establish telephone contact,” they explain in this regard from the Ministry. The rest of the population over 40 years of age who wish to be vaccinated and have not yet been able to, in turn have the option “Extraordinary Vaccination Appeal”. Since the beginning of the campaign in Asturias, all the doses that arrived were administered, without reserving anything.
Something similar happens in Galicia, with 74.2% of the vaccinated population. As in Asturias, the data is also explained by the aging of the population, which was given priority in the immunization campaign. Almost a third of the Galician inhabitants are 60 or over, while those under 30 do not represent a quarter of the total. The community has been receiving a percentage of vaccines higher than the weight of its population in the State for this reason. But beyond that, the population has responded to the calls. In the middle of August and warned just three days in advance, 80% of the 12 and 13-year-olds attended to receive their first dose on the 23rd. The Department of Health also points to the involvement of the nursing team dedicated to the task, made up of professionals who volunteered.
Extremadura, which occupies the third position on the list of vaccinated with the complete schedule, has been among the autonomous communities with the best rhythm since the beginning of the campaign, a fact that the Extremadura Ministry of Health attributes to the “great response” of the population, which has attended the massive appeals to receive the preparation against COVID-19, and the “good organization of the professionals of the Extremadura Health Service.” Health disassociates the good data from the vaccination campaign to the pyramid of the Extremaduran population, older than in other autonomous communities, because “the distribution of vaccines that the Ministry has made has been in proportion to the population of age groups”, underlines.
For its part, Andalusia reached the 70% target on Tuesday. It is the autonomous community with the most doses administered, almost 12 million. Meanwhile, the Canary Islands has remained at the gates of the goal due to problems in the arrival of vaccines and, they explain, because it is one of the territories with the most young people. The islands were also one of the first communities to begin immunizing adolescents over 12 years of age.
Communities with young people and problems in reaching the population
In the Balearic Islands, the community with a lower percentage of people with a complete regimen, 64.1%, one of the main problems has been vaccinating workers in the service sector, which is of great importance in the islands. These people, due to incompatible schedules, have been postponing appointments or have not attended health centers. To alleviate it, the Government approved a few weeks ago vaccination without prior appointment, not for tourists, but focused on these professionals. The idea is that they can get vaccinated whenever they want, after the end of their day, and not have to wait for the summer season to end to receive their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the case of Madrid and Catalonia, it is explained that the percentage has not yet been reached because they are some of the communities with the most youthful population, which are the last to be vaccinated as established at the beginning of the campaign. However, it is not the only explanation for the delays. Throughout the vaccination process, Madrid has had problems with the rate of punctures, and has tried to alleviate the delay first by opening the agendas, then by enabling vaccination without an appointment, incorporating private vaccination spaces such as El Corte Inglés and also promoting inoculations in the middle of the morning in some health centers. If vaccination continues at this rate and according to the latest data, the Community of Madrid would still take two weeks to reach the desired 70% of the population with the full schedule. Catalonia would take 12 days and the Balearic Islands would reach the goal in a month.
Report prepared with information from Javier Martinez Mansilla, Beatriz Muñoz, Angy Galvin, Santiago Manchado and Dácil Jimenez.