Wednesday, August 4

Young people begin to be vaccinated: the challenges of reaching the population with the lowest risk and highest incidence


Instagram has been filled with plasters on the shoulders, syringes and waiting rooms. The generation under 30 years old (the one that uses that social network of photos and videos the most) has begun this week to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to be able to make an appointment in several autonomous communities: Madrid, Aragón, Canary Islands, Navarra, Andalusia, Castilla y León or Castilla-La Mancha have already open that age range, some without distinctions and others differentiating for years. It is not yet reflected especially in the data, but the figure is rising and will do so more in the coming days: from 783,185 twenty-somethings with at least one dose last Friday, to 932,461 this Tuesday, 18.9% of the total. On Monday alone, 138,000 children under 25 and over 16 requested their vaccination in Madrid. According to the National Institute of Statistics, 700,000 young people of that age live in the community, that is, the first day they were able to, 20% of the total applied for it.

The delta variant removes group immunity and forces more population to be vaccinated

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Vaccination, by age group, in each community

Percentage of the population of each age group that has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination or the complete schedule, out of the total population of that group

NOTE: in the case of the 20-49 age group, before June 21 includes 18 and 19 years


Source: Ministry of Health

Young people are the last in priority for immunization because they are also the least at risk. According to the Carlos III Health Institute, Since June 2020, the fatality rate among those under 30 has not reached 0.1%. 0.1% did end up in the ICU, and 1.4% of infected twenty-somethings have been admitted to hospital. Young people, mostly unimmunized, are the ones who are getting the most in this phase of the pandemic, the incidence among them triples the general one. So proportionally the numbers remain the same, but numerically there are more and more serious cases. His vaccination will be covered in the coming weeks, although the terms of the drugs will last about two months. And that immunization is key to controlling the already qualified fifth wave, along with the restrictive measures that the communities consider. “The objective must be to have covered them before college and university begin, the serious problem will be if they rejoin with these incidence rates”, believes José Antonio Forcada, president of the Nursing and Vaccine Association. The digital ‘COVID’ certificate, which allows you to travel if you are vaccinated without limitations, will help to that end; also measures such as those imposed in Galicia, where they will only allow access to nightlife with PCR or complete guidelines.

The incidence of recent infections in each age group

Evolution of the incidence of cases in 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants in each age group since March 2021

In Spain, the reception of vaccines so far by citizens has been almost unbeatable. 100% of those over 70 have gone to their appointment, also 90% of those over 40. Now the challenge is for the grandchildren, children or younger siblings of those generations to respond the same. Vaccineologists usually start from the premise that as the age of the target groups decreases, there is more rejection of vaccines, or more sloppiness when it comes to giving them, because the younger you are, the less danger you think you have. The normal thing is that up to 20% can say no. The objective is however to cover more than 70% of all groups. Will we achieve it with the youth? “There is no other remedy. We have to go for it. We must convince young people to get vaccinated,” responds Amós García Rojas, president of the Spanish Association of Vaccination and part of the Ministry’s Vaccine Report. “I am concerned that they are being criminalized excessively. We must win them for the cause by making them see that to recover the life we ​​had, we must get vaccinated. Not calling them fools,” he concludes.

Inmaculada Cuesta, a nurse who is also part of the Vaccine Conference, is prudent. He believes that the first to be mentioned “are those who are already very clear about it. But that happens in this age group and in all of them, in all of them there are people who doubt. But it is true that young people are not going to have such a feeling of danger”. For this reason, “strategies must be sought to make them allies.” Which? It proposes “providing reliable sources and that they are transferred by people who have commitment and in some way complicity with them, who collaborate with the influencers. What I tell them is not going to have much effect, but what a footballer, journalist or singer says maybe more. That advocates solidarity “. The Ministry of Health was, precisely, preparing a campaign in this direction, for young people and starring well-known characters. Cuesta also proposes when the time comes and if there is a need” a strategy similar to that of the United States, that some raffles there have been the last straw, but maybe some kind of compensation or prize for those who get vaccinated. ”

A problem that does not exist today

Other experts are of the opinion that you should not look for plasters before you have a wound. “The issue of vaccine reluctance is very complex and for now there is no data that indicates that it is occurring among young people”, recalls Pedro Gullón, member of the Spanish Epidemiology Society: “At the moment, I am more concerned about the difficulty of access to the vaccine due to the movement between communities that can occur on vacation, or poor planning that makes you skip a dose and a window of people not fully protected opens. I am more concerned about the administrative problems that may arise. ” Gullón believes that to stop this fifth wave, it will be necessary to accelerate the vaccination of younger groups, but also to accompany it with measures.

His colleague Mario Fontán Vela, a specialist in preventive medicine, supports the latter. And also that there are more urgent debates than the possible rejection of the youth, which for now has not occurred: “At the time, I think the CIS figures that announced that in Spain there would be a lot of reluctance to vaccinate, in their time, did not do us any favors. september last year [y que finalmente no se cumplieron]. And now I don’t think it helps to talk about this potential reluctance either. I am more concerned with studying the factors that influence rejection, implementing measures … but talking about this so much I think it ends up muddying and stigmatizing even more a population branded as selfish throughout the pandemic, 99% of times unfairly ” José Antonio Forcada points to one last thing to keep in mind: “Communicate that even if you are vaccinated, you must continue to take precautions, at least until there is a very high percentage of the vaccinated population. We do not know exactly the effectiveness with different variants so you cannot do the kaffir as soon as you are vaccinated. ”



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