- State system patients are contacted by age group for appointment by phone or text message around 24-48 hours before the appointment. This will either be in a hospital, mass vaccination centre, or local surgery
- Private medical insurance patients should go to the health centre local to them and request a registration (alta) as a “displaced person without a health card” (desplazado en población sin Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual). Take your passport and TIE/empadronamiento)
- NB: the health centre must obviously be a state one and not a private clinic because the vaccine is only provided through the state system. If you do not know if your local health centre is private or state, then obviously you will need to ask them
- Patients who need a certificate of vaccination have a range of options to get one. Either download one from the miHistoria app/section of the SCS website with a code or digital certificate, or just ask for an appointment to collect one from your local health centre for one – the principal portal for these options is HERE. Easiest though is probably THIS that takes just two minutes – simply enter your NIE and a mobile number and you will be sent an SMS with a code to download one
Updated 29 July: The BBC is reporting, based on figures from Our World in Data (in other words these are accurate and confirmed figures), that Spain is now the best performer out of the 50 largest countries in terms of population. What a fantastic effort with its vaccination programme! Here’s Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall …
The lack of vaccination in the rest of the world is far more important now than a few % points between European states but for those interested, Spain has now overtaken the UK on % of population fully vaccinated. Has best performance of 50 largest countries by population. pic.twitter.com/a2nlsEiATh— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) July 29, 2021
Updated 27 July: This is the last update I’ll give on vaccination schedules because the reality is that Spain is now up there with the best in the world at unrolling this vaccine programme, and anyone at all who is still unvaccinated should check with their local public health centre or ring 012 to see what the position is for them to get inoculated. I’ll still add significant information or announcements about vacacination in Spain, but for today Sanidad is now vaccinating 14 year olds and over in Tenerife and Gran Canaria from tomorrow in times and locations as follows:
Updated 26 July: Sanidad has started vaccinating the over-12s in islands other than Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Those born in or before 2009 in the other islands can call 012 or use SCS cita previa to request an appointment to be vaccinated. They’ll be doing the same here in the near future now.
Updated 23 July: Sanidad says that tomorrow, Saturday 24 july and Sunday 25 July, anyone over 16 can just turn up for vaccination without appointment at the Hospital del Sur (El Mojón) and the Pabellon San Martin between 9am and 7pm.
Updated 22 July, 10pm: The over18s in Tenerife can turn up this weekend for vaccinations without appointment as follows:
Updated 22 July: La Palma residents over 16 (born 2005 or earlier) can now also get their vaccination without appointment this Saturday between 9am and 5pm in the Pabellón Municipal in El Paso.
Updated 21 July: Sanidad (Canarias) is now providing a turn-up vaccination system for 18 and 19 year olds – born 2003 or earlier – in the mass-vaccine points in Tenerife and Gran Canaria where a set number of doses will be set aside each day for the first who turn up. The system will operate in conjunction with the age groups still being completed.
In Tenerife the schedule is every day between 5pm and 7pm as follows with number of doses in each location mentioned:
- Recinto Ferial & Pabellón Santiago Martín – 200
- Anexo del Aulario de Guajara de la Universidad de La Laguna – 150
- Casa del Emprendedor de Los Realejos & Magma & CTcan de Candelaria – 100
Alternatively, Monday to Friday:
- Hospital del Norte & Consultorio Local de Garachico 5-7pm – 80
- HUC 4-6pm – 150
In Gran Canaria, around 200 vaccines will be administered at Infecar between 4 and 6pm, 240 in the Hospital Universitario Dr. Negrín between 11am and 2.30pm, and 200 in the Pedro Hidalgo arena between 11am and 1pm.
Sanidad says that anyone attending needs just to bring ID/residence proof, and that this expansion of the vaccine programme is part of the schedule to have 70% of the target population (all residents over 12 years of age) vaccinated by the end of this month. Sanidad also reminds anyone over 18 that they can continue requesting an appointment for vaccine through any of the usual channels – the miCitaPrevia app or in the SCS website: www.canariassevacuna.com or simply by calling 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC) to request an appointment for a specific time to receive their vaccine.
Finally, in Fuerteventura, they’ve even reached the 16 year olds. Sanidad says that 16 and 17 year olds can now just turn up to be vaccinated without appointment between 9am and 1.30pm this Saturday, 24 July, in the Palacio de Congresos in Puerto del Rosario.
Updated 18 July: Staff have had to be recalled from the vaccination point in El Mojón which is therefore no longer operating as a mass vaccination centre. The reason is the increase of cases in Candelaria Hospital and the need for presencial nursing there as Tenerife’s figures soar with the latest fatality a 44 year old man from the Granadilla area with no underlying conditions who died after contracting covid in a family get-together. Anyone anticipating their second vaccination in El Mojón should check because they will now be vaccinated in a different centre, possibly in the north or perhaps the Magma Centre… and if that is the case, take a parasol or something for shade because queues are going to be even longer there now and management there does not know what shade means.
Updated 15 July: Sanidad has called for Tenerife and Gran Canaria residents over 20 – born in or before 2001 – to request an appointment for a vaccination by phoning 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC), or online HERE or the associated app. Those over 16 should request their vaccination through the canariassevacuna.com website.
Updated 14 July: Lanzarote residents over 16 years of age – born in or before 2005 – can now request their vaccine by calling 928 478 950 between 8am and 8pm any day of the week.
Updated 9 July: Tenerife residents between 40 and 59 years of age who have still not been vaccinated or appointed can just turn up at the Pabellón Santiago Martín this Sunday, 11 July, between 9am and 9pm for the single dose Janssen. The sports centre is alongside the TF5, near and the other side of the motorway from University Hospital (HUC). There will be such a mass vaccine day in Gran Canaria too – residents there can turn up, same hours same day, at Infecar, Expomeloneras, Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Dr. Negrín, or the Terrero de Lucha de Pedro Hidalgo,
Updated 6 July: Sanidad (Canarias) has opened vaccination for the 20-29 year old age group – born 1992 to 2001 – in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Sanidad has therefore asked residents in that age group who haven’t yet been vaccinated or given a date to receive a vaccination to call for an appointment – call 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC), or use the miCitaPrevia app on a mobile or website. This is Group 12 of Spain’s Vaccination Strategy which is now starting to be administered from next week; Group 12 is the penultimate group of the strategy leaving just Group 13 to process, comprising those between 12 and 19 years of age – born betweeen 2002 and 2009.
In El Hierro, meanwhile, residents over 16 years of age – born in or before 2005 – who are still unvaccinated and unappointed can just turn up to the Hospital Nuestra Señora de los Reyes for their vaccination without an appointment between 9am and 1.30pm on any day.
Updated 1 July: Tenerife residents between 40 and 59 who aren’t vaccinated yet nor appointed for one can simply turn up at the Pabellón de Deportes de Tenerife Santiago Martín in Santa Cruz without appointment at any time between 8am on Sunday 4 July to 8am on Monday 5. The vaccine that will be administered to attendees will be the single dose Janssen.
Updated 29 June: Residents in El Hierro over 20 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated or appointed to receive a vaccination can now simply turn up without an appointment at the insular vaccination point at Hospital Nuestra Señora de los Reyes between Monday and Friday, 9am to 1.30pm to be vaccinated. Those attending shoud take ID plus tarjeta sanitaria. There will also be a one-off Saturday mass vaccination this coming 3 July at the same centre for the over-20s, again between 9am and 1.30pm.
Meanwhile, in La Gomera, residents over 20 can turn up without appointment on Wednesday at the Centro de Visitantes de San Sebastián (9am-2pm) and on Thursday at the Puerto de Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey (9am-5pm) for a vaccine.
Updated 22 June: Tenerife and Gran Canaria residents between 30 and 39 years of age who are unvaccinated and have not had an appointment for a vaccine can now make one through the SCS website or the miCitaPrevia app. Sanidad indicates that they are hoping to get through this age group by mid July but are utilising spare appointment slots so there is a risk that a given appointment will be changed – and if this happens the change will be communicated by text/SMS message. The rest of the population between 16 and 30 years of age can continue making appointments through the dedicated online form canariassevacuna.com and these will be allocated according to age group timing.
Updated 17 June: Tenerife and Gran Canaria residents over 40 years old – born in or before 1981 – can now request an appointment for a covid vaccination if they have not already had one. Patients can call 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC) … and now, they have another option because they can go HERE to the cita previa section of the section of the miSCS website which patients aready use to make appointments to see their GP or nurse, and there is also a miSCS app that can be downloaded to mobiles and other devices. There is also the www.canariassevacuna.com website for patients to use.
Updated 9 June: Tenerife and Gran Canaria residents over 45 years of age can now request their vaccination. Call 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC). In La Palma, residents over 35/born in or before 1986 can be vaccinated without prior appointment this Saturday, 12 June, by turning up at the Pabellón Municipal in El Paso between 9am and 5pm. All other state system patients in the Canaries between 16 and 45 can use the www.canariassevacuna.com website to request an appointment when their group starts to be called.
Updated 28 May: The Canaries are one of just three regions of Spain where the under-50s are already being processed for vaccination. We join Castilla-La Mancha and the Balearics in this, with confirmation now that the new website for all over-16s to add their details to will allow the Canaries to start vaccinating those in their 40s in June, and from the beginning of July will start vaccinating those in their 30s. The 20-29 age group is expected to start receiving their inoculations from the end of July.
Updated 26 May: Residents in La Palma over 49 years of age can receive a vaccine this Saturday without prior appointment. Anyone born in or before 1972 and living in La Palma and who has not yet had a vaccination or appointment should just turn up at Pabellón Roberto Rodríguez Estrello in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma, between 9am and 5pm. Those attending need to take ID (passport, plus TIE/Registro and Tarjeta Sanitaria), and they will be given a vaccine appropriate to their age group, so AztraZeneca for those between 60 and 69, and Pfizer for the other age groups.
Updated 24 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has provided a website for Canarian residents to ask for a vaccination. Sanidad says that those who are resident here and would like the vaccination, whatever age they might be, can put in their details and request an appointment for the vaccine. The website is www.canariassevacuna.com. Sanidad explains that it’s a simple form with fields for full name, DNI or NIE and mobile number (needed to send a text to). It seems that this is only for state system patients because Sanidad says that the information put into the form will be checked against the tarjeta sanitaria database … if anyone not in the system tries and succeeds please let me know! Patients will receive an SMS within a maximum of 48 hours with an appointment allocated according to age group.
edit: it is constantly collapsing right now due to excessive demand so give it another go, and some time …
Updated 19 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has vaccinated 32.41% of its target population with at least one dose, the Government has announced. To yesterday, 286,338 people had received both doses (or the single Janssen), 15.30% of the target population. Today, Sanidad is advising the following groups to ring for an appointment if not yet vaccinated:
- Tenerife and Gran Canaria, 55 years of age or over, not yet vaccinated or appointed … call 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC)
- Fuerteventura, 55 years of age or over, not yet vaccinated or appointed … call 928 423 516
- Lanzarote, 55 years of age or over, not yet vaccinated or appointed … call 928 595 130 between 8am and 8pm
- El Hierro, 55 years of age or over, not yet vaccinated or appointed … call 618 797 495 between 8am and 3pm
- La Gomera, 55 years of age or over, not yet vaccinated or appointed … call 922 140 255 between 8am and 3.30pm
Updated 18 May: Sanidad has called state system residents in Tenerife and Gran Canaria who are 55 years of age or over and who have not yet been vaccinated or appointed, to call 012 or 922 470 012 (TF) or 928 301 012 (GC) to request an appointment. All in their 50s should be contacted with an appointment anyway in the next few days. I know that yesterday they were calling for those in their 50s not to phone but that was yesterday and this is today … things change on a daily basis.
Updated 15 May: It seems impossible for them to fix … if you are going to the Magma Centre for one of this weekend’s turn-up vaccinations or if you’re sent there for an appointment, try to take some shade with you. I complained there during the last but one Starmus here about 80+yo Nobel laureates left out in the sun because the management were “not ready to let people in” … and that was in 2014! Now today I have reports that someone’s collapsed and needed a saline drip after being left outside in a queue, without shade, in full sun. Take a parasol or something. And if you’re reading this and work in the Magma, have a word with someone, for goodness’ sake. By definition these are not young people, that’s why they are there. Give them some shade and stop being so inhumane.
Updated 12 May: Sanidad has put out a call for all resident foreigners over 60 in the Canaries with only private insurance to go to their health centres where they will be appointed for the vaccine. This is a new call, so it might take a little while for the instruction to filter through to the health centres themselves, but Sanidad today says that the over-60s foreign resident population who are not registered in the state system should now go to their local health centre with an identification document (passport) and their certificate of residence (this is not specified by Gobcan but Sanidad says empadronamiento … I’d take both Registro/TIE and empadronamiento if possible, just in case).
Anyone who has ongoing problems after an initial interval to get the system embedded should speak to their national Consulate to intervene since this is an issue at regional Governmental level, not a municipal or insular level matter, but if it works as planned, anyone over 60 who is a legal resident with private insurance but not in the state system goes to their local health centre, requests a registration (alta) as a “displaced person without a health card”: this is a formal social category, specifically in Spanish “desplazado en población sin Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual (TSI)”. They are then to be given a temporary registration for the purposes of a vaccine, followed by an appointment and the vacine itself; Sanidad says “Una vez realizado este trámite serán citados para la vacunación” (once you do this you will be appointed for the vaccine).
You might like to print out THIS official Government information on the matter to take with you. Most is about the state system over 60s just turning up this weekend for their vaccine but at the bottom is the instruction about non-state system residents over 60. Good luck!
Updated 11 May: Sanidad has called for all residents in Tenerife or Gran Canaria who are over 60 years of age to attend a local centre this weekend to be vaccinated. The call includes those who are with the mutuas Muface, Mugeju and Isfas … mutuas are like insurance companies but they’re non-profit entities often affiliated to health services. Those in their 60s will be given AZ while the over 70s will get Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen. You will need to present a Tarjeta Sanitaria (so this is only for state registered individuals) and TIE/Registro/DNI. In Tenerife the place to go is either the Recinto Ferial in Santa Cruz or the Magma Centre in the south on Saturday or Sunday between 10am and 5pm.
Updated 8 May: HERE is a link to a post detailing how to register with the state system for those private patients who are distressed at not receiving their vaccine and seeing other younger people get theirs. Some private patients living here will be able to register, others won’t be entitled, so it’s not a given, but if you are eligible (legally registered, no other entitlement elsewhere etc), you can register and get vaccinated within a week. I’ve repeatedly said that there is quite a bit of support for private patients wanting the vaccine but only so much can be done on their behalf in terms of administrative or political pressure, systemic information provision, and so on … people have to act in their own name and they have various options (solicitud, ombudsman, legal action, etc) as detailed below. But one obvious, easy and (relatively) straightforward option is to see if you’ve got entitlement to the state system. If you have, get registered! It’s that simple.
Updated 7 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has called for all residents in the Canaries born in or before 1961 and who have not yet been vaccinated to phone for an appointment. Residents in Tenerife and Gran Canaria should call 012, or 928 301 012, or 922 470 01. Residents in Fuerteventura should call 928 423 516; Lanzarote 928 595 401; La Palma 922 479 469; El Hierro 618 797 495; and La Gomera 922 140 255. This is in addition to the routine procedure of Sanidad calling up patients, and the aim is to speed up the process of inoculation among the target population.
Obviously this relates to residents who are in Sanidad’s system … ie state system residents. We are no further forwards for private patients who need either to register in the state system as described now by a reader in an update below and by a reader on the Readers’ Comments page, or to take some sort of administrative or legal action in respect either of the health service or the insurance companies. These individuals have to act in their own name unless they give someone power of attorney, there’s no alternative to having to act for oneself in formal procedures, even if supported by a charity-type organization or a lawyer.
Updated 5 May: Sanidad (Canarias) has called for anyone living in Tenerife or Gran Canaria who was born in or before 1957 and who has not yet been vaccinated to phone for an appointment. You can call 012, or 928 301 012, or 922 470 012. This is in addition to the routine procedure of Sanidad calling up patients, and the aim is to speed up the process of inoculation among the target population. Sanidad has explained that the appointment systems have been combined to ensure coverage of priority groups, since the regular arrival of vaccines, together with the opening of mass vaccination centres, will enable the vaccination programme to be intensified: the number of vaccinations for other age groups will be progressively increased.
Canarian President Ángel Torres has reiterated the goal of vaccinating 70% of the public this summer, and as of 3 May, 191,329 people in the Canaries had already received the full vaccination schedule, 10.23% of the target population – the full schedule is two doses of AZ, Pfizer and Moderna, and one of J&J/Janssen. In addition to the routine public calls by age and health risk group, Sanidad (Canarias) says that it will now be reorganizing and vaccinating groups 3 and 6 (other health and social-health personnel not included in group 2 & essential personnel including, among other groups, teachers and local police). This will resume once over 70% of the over 60s have been vaccinated, expected to be this week since over 70% have already been appointed if not actually vaccinated. In total, this group is made up of some 66,000 people whose vaccination schedule was interrupted after the suspension of AZ for people under 60: to that point, 18,821 people had received their first dose and the decision by the Interterritorial Council on their second doses is still awaited.
All this progress, Sanidad says, will also make it possible to start vaccinating those under 60, having already completed 98.76% of group 1, 99.32% of group 2, and 91.99% of group 4. On Monday and Tuesday this week, the regional Health Department received 66,700 Pfizer doses, and on Friday will take delivery of 14,100 Moderna doses. Further shipments of AZ and J&J/Janssen are also expected but there’s no confirmation at present of the number of doses or their precise delivery date. The logistical exercise is complex in the extreme, and is necessarily under constant revision. The latest revision of the National Vaccination Strategy establishes the following vaccination groups and prioritisation:
- Stage I:
- Group 1. Residents/health and social-health staff working in homes for the elderly/care for highly dependent
- Group 2. Frontline staff in the health and social-health care field (different from group 1)
- Group 3. Other health and social-health personnel (not included in group 2)
- Group 4. Persons considered to be highly dependent (grade III) and main carers.
- Stage II:
- Group 5. People vulnerable due to age, not residents of senior citizen centres
- Group 6. Active groups with an essential function for society
- Group 7. People with very high risk conditions – transplant patients, dialysis, cancer, HIV etc
- Group 8. Persons between 60 and 65 (born between 1956 and 1961 inclusive)
- Group 9. Persons between 51 and 59 (born between 1962 and 1970 inclusive)
Updated 30 April: The time between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be increased for some recipients by four weeks, Sanidad (Spain) has said. The increase, from 12 to 16 weeks will for now only apply to those who are under 60 and who had the first dose before Spain changed tack following health concerns and restricted it to those in their 60s. The move will allow Sanidad some space to decide what to do about their second dose, time needed because the results of the national trial for vaccine combination are now available, the trial having just completed, it was announced yesterday. With these results, decisions can start to be made about guidelines and criteria for this particular group. There is no suggestion that the interval will be increased for those in their 60s who’ve already had the first dose of AZ.
Updated 28 April: Sanidad (Canarias) has issued a notice for those in La Gomera to ring 922 140 255 Monday to Friday 8.30am to 3.30pm if they were born in or before 1961 and have not yet been called for vaccination. Sanidad says that this appointment system, which it intends to speed up the process of inoculating the target population over 60 years of age, is in addition to the SMS and phone calls that are sent as a standard protocol for notifying the target population. The current calls are therefore:
- the general call throughout the islands remains in place for those born in or before the 1950s, not yet vaccinated, to ring 012, 928 301 012 or 922 470 012 for an appointment
- those living in La Gomera, born in or before 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 922 140 255
- those living in El Hierro, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 618 797 495 between 8am and 3pm before 30 April
- those living in Fuerteventura, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 423 516 before 30 April for an appointment
Updated 26 April: Canarian Health Minister Blas Trujillo has reported that 81,170 doses of vaccine will arrive in the Canaries this week, leaving the region on course to achieve the official target of having 70% of the target population vaccinated this summer provided the pace of supplies remains good. This week’s delivery, though, will allow a sharp increase in the rate of vaccination, Trujillo confirmed, with 13,000 doses being administered daily until yesterday, a rate reinforced over recent weeks with the new mass vaccination centres like the Recinto Ferial and Magma Centre. The new delivery will comprise 57,330 Pfizer doses, 11,550 J&J/Janssen, 7,590 Moderna, and 4,700 AstraZeneca.
Sanidad (Canarias) also confirmed that as of yesterday, Sunday, the vaccination teams throughout the Canaries had administered 567,797 doses of one of the four vaccines currently with EMA approval. This has resulted in 148,489 people now fully immunised, 7.94% of the target population of 1,871,033, and 419,573 people receiving the first dose of two, 22.42% of the target population. These figures have been achieved, the Minister explained, by 2,300 nurses who’ve received specific training working in teams every day of the week in vac centres, hospitals, homes for the elderly and disabled, and in the homes of vulnerable or infirm patients. And all this, Trujillo stressed, despite difficulties in the early stages of the vaccine rollout beyond Spain, such as the problems with EU lab distribution, changes in the pattern of administering AZ, and more recently the stoppage of the international distribution of the J&J/Janssen vaccine (this last now overcome with EMA approval).
Many readers wonder about how progress is going by target group, and Trujillo explained the following:
- groups 1 and 2: now complete
- group 3: 100% have had one dose and 28.19% both doses
- group 4: almost complete – 90.4% have now had both doses
- group 5: 52,835 people have had both doses (18.54%), 201,720 have had first dose (70.78%)
- group 6: 28.52% have had one dose
- group 7: 7,294 people have had one dose (41.13%)
Updated 25 April: I’ve heard enough now to convince me that there’s some kind of campaign to frighten British residents in Tenerife with private health insurance that 1) they are not going to get the vaccine because they’re foreigners and 2) when they do it will a) be through the “new instruction” from the Government to the insurance companies to arrange it and b) chargeable to the policy holders/clients because it’s not part of what the premiums cover. Naturally, the claims “know” that the insurers are going to charge huge amounts for the vaccine.
Despite the logical inconsistencies in this (if they’re not getting it at all they won’t be getting it through their insurers), and the impossible claim (insurers are currently saying they have no knowledge at all of the issue let alone have already set a price), as well as the non-existence of any “new instruction” (the only instruction is the original one for the insurers to liaise with regional Governments), people are frightened and some are considering cancelling their private medical insurance policy because of fears that they will be landed with a bill of thousands for a vaccine … and that’s despite the fact they have no entitlement to state cover and so wouldn’t have either healthcare or vaccine in that situation!
I imagine there’s a range of reasons why people create and spread such rumours but no-one needs to be concerned. The insurers are doing nothing at the moment and even if they were to do something they couldn’t make arrangements to administer the vaccine because that is being done exclusively through the state system. Moreover, it is a public health vaccination programme … public health, i.e. free. There is no way of setting a fee for this. Today, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has said, in English:
Spain is commited to equal and universal access to vaccines. Just this week, I have announced that we will make about 7.5 million doses available to Latin America and the Caribbean this year. Only together we will succeed.
Not only will everyone in Spain who wants a vaccination get one free of charge in some manner or another before this is all over, but the country’s even looking at making available doses to countries with specifically Spanish connections or dependence. I know many private patients are frustrated and fearful about how and when they’ll get their vaccine but what they do not need to be worried about is if and how much. In these two respects, there is simply no question.
Updated 23 April: In order to speed up the vaccination of the over 76s, Sanidad (Canarias) has asked all residents in Tenerife and Gran Canaria who were born in or before 1945 and who have not yet had a vaccination to call for an appointment. Ring 012, or 928 301 012 or 922 470 012. This is in addition to the existing calls which are now as below.
Meanwhile, Sanidad (Spain) has announced that over 10m people have now had at least one dose of a covid vaccine in the country, wth 14m doses administered and over 3.7m people having received both doses required of the vaccine they received: the Janssen vaccine which is now being administered is a single dose inoculation. Breaking the figures down a little, the national Health Department says that 99.4% of the over 80s have had at least one dose and 72.1% have received two doses; in the 70-79 age group, 55.1% have received at least one dose; and in the 60-69 age group, 40.9% have received one dose. The announcement coincides with a statement issued by the EU today of its approval of an increase of 20% in production for BioNTech/Pfizer’s Puurs site, and confirmation that 150m vaccine doses will be delivered throughout the EU this week alone. Pfizer particularly seems to have become a veritable vaccine production machine, and in the last week, the EU’s increasing output generally has meant that Spain has been able to distribute 1,200,000 Pfizer, 345,000 AZ, and 146,000 Janssen doses to its own regions.
Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias stressed that the vaccination process continues at an ever-increasing pace as supplies increase, with the country set to receive over 30m doses of vaccine in April, May and June. Darias said that she wanted to recognise the great work done by the regional Health Departments and health professionals that has allowed the country for the first time to have more people completely vaccinated than the number of reported infections – we now have 3.7m+ people who’ve received both doses of their vaccines compared to 3.45m recorded cases of covid in Spain. Darias said that “we have now reached a new milestone on the road to mass immunisation. Today, more than 10 million people have at least one dose. Vaccines are our horizon of hope; vaccines are safe, they are effective and they save lives”.
So, the call is now for:
- those living in Tenerife and Gran Canaria, bon before 1945, not yet vaccinated. Call 012, or 928 301 012 or 922 470 012
- those living in El Hierro, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 618 797 495 between 8am and 3pm before 30 April
- those living in Lanzarote, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 595 266 or 928 595 401 before 27 April for an appointment
- those living in Fuerteventura, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 423 516 30 April for an appointment
- the general call throughout the islands remains in place for those born between 1952 and 1955 to ring 012, 928 301 012 or 922 470 012 for an appointment.
Updated 22 April: Sanidad has issued a further call for the public to ring for an appointment for a vaccination. Again, this is state patients only – the discussion about private patients’ access to the vaccine, which is only available through the state system, is in several recent updates below. The current calls for state patients who are unvaccinated and without an appointment for a vaccine, are:
- those living in El Hierro, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 618 797 495 between 8am and 3pm before 30 April
- those living in Lanzarote, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 595 266 or 928 595 401 before 27 April for an appointment
- those living in Fuerteventura, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 423 516 30 April for an appointment
- the general call throughout the islands remains in place for those born between 1952 and 1955 to ring 012, 928 301 012 or 922 470 012 for an appointment.
Updated 21 April: The issue of private patients has become quite interesting this morning, to me at least, because two positions have become very much clearer. First, the national Government has repeated that its Vaccination Strategy is a public health strategy within which it is important to vaccinate against covid everyone who lives in Spain, following in all cases the prioritisation established by risk conditions, exposure, age and other criteria included in the strategy. These criteria relate to physical conditions like age and underlying conditions, risk of work placement such as frontline staff; they do not relate to social security contribution status, and indeed the national government says explicitly that presently, “with a limited number of doses, all persons included in the priority groups are being vaccinated, regardless of their nationality or type of insurance.” No mention of any particular system, like private patients being directed to their insurers, just everyone to be vaccinated regardless of their type of insurance – state social security system, private medical insurance, mutua (non-profit associations that can collaborate with the Social Security system), etc. The Government says that in later phases, when a greater number of doses become available, it will assess how to vaccinate even those Spaniards living abroad.
The position is clear, and Sanidad (Canarias) is this morning itself saying that it would be wonderful if doses could be administered left, right and centre but they can’t be because the Canaries do not have the supplies. The position as outlined by the Canarian authorities is that the rate of administering the vaccine is around half that of the national rate, though over 92% of supplies received in these islands have already been administered to patients; moreover, by the end of this week over 20,000 doses will be being administered daily. As is well known, I am no good with figures but these factoids appear oddly unaligned, but the regional authorities’ tone to me suggests a certain defensiveness, and it is perhaps not too difficult to imagine the uproar were there to be news reports of “wealthy foreigners with private insurance” getting theirs before locals with minimal incomes and in the state system. It seems to me possible that right now, a “solution” to the private patients issue which could see such a situation arise is not desirable for very local political reasons even though it’s top priority in health policy terms.
Meanwhile, the regional Health Department has confirmed that following approval by the EMA, the J&J/Janssen vaccine will start to be administered this week. Sanidad (Canarias) has also issued further calls for people to ring to be vaccinated in centres which from today now include the Magma Centre and the Recinto Ferial: we are informed where to go when we are given the appointment. The new call for people to ring up is as follows:
- those living in Lanzarote, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 595 266 or 928 595 401 between today and 27 April for an appointment
- those living in Fuerteventura, born between 1952 and 1961, not yet vaccinated. Call 928 423 516 between today and 30 April for an appointment
- the general call throughout the islands remains in place for those born between 1952 and 1955 to ring 012, 928 301 012 or 922 470 012 for an appointment.
Updated 19 April: As the EU as a whole now mulls the possibility of not renewing its AZ contract because of persistent delivery shortfalls, Spain has announced today that it’s started a clinical trial using a different vaccine in the two doses required (for all approved vaccines currently apart from J&J/Janssen). First, those in the trial who have received AZ in their first dose will be given Pfizer as a second dose, the trial taking place under the auspices of the ISCIII’s Clinical Research Platform in five hospitals: La Paz and Clínico San Carlos in Madrid; Vall d’Hebron and Clínic in Barcelona; and Cruces in Vizcaya. The ISCIII’s National Microbiology Centre will be the trial’s central laboratory responsible for the analysis and interpretation of the antibody figures. Some 600 people under 60 will participate in the vaccine combination trial, selected randomly from among those who’ve had a first AZ dose where a minimum of 8 weeks has passed before the start of the trial.
Updated 17 April: Sadly, it appears that calling 012 for a vaccination appointment won’t be an option for those outside the state system: at least one confirmed instance now exists of someone with private medical insurance being told to register with their local surgery first … and they’d just actually come from there and been turned down (Guía de Isora). The FCDO has now updated its Spain info page with the specific information that they are waiting for confirmation from the Canarian Government about the system to be in place in this region for private patients: this is somewhat odd, to my mind, because they have previously added the regions where confirmed information is available, and there’s nothing for those regions where they’re still investigating. So, either they’re inundated with questions and just want to get the answer out there or they are less than impressed at the regional authorities’ response to repeated requests for solutions that exist elsewhere … but seemingly not here.
The simple fact is that the councils have emphatically and almost universally said that they have no part to play formally in the matter, referring enquiries to Sanidad (Canarias), which tells people either to go and register with a doctor (impossible for most) or speak to their insurance companies (pointless for all). What is clear is that some people who need the vaccine and are wholly entitled to it because of age, vulnerability, or both, are not getting it simply because they are not registered within a national health service where medical registration is not a legal requirement for their residence, a residence which has, moreover, been processed through a resident registration system which actively requires them to have private medical insurance if they are not registered in the state system.
Some might reasonably see actual discrimination in this situation because in a country where the vaccine strategy is for all residents who want it to receive it, those whose category is “being able to retire and afford insurance” are excluded for the sole reason that they are in that category. It seems, indeed, that they are being excluded precisely because they are “someone else’s problem”, whether that’s the insurance companies, a foreign nation state, or the national Government “which is liaising with the insurance companies”. I’ve stated before that the national government might have to enforce its instruction to the insurers to get involved, but some regions of Spain have managed to do things regionally/municipally for themselves so why would Madrid need to legislate? It would seem reasonable surely for the national Government to hold the view that if some regions have sorted out vaccine access for private patients, what is stopping the Canarian Government?
It seems to me, though, that the greatest number of enquiries I’ve had for many a month, and the greatest number of complaints, have come from precisely those who want the vaccine, don’t have state healthcare, do have private insurance, and want to complain. They complain to me. Great. Fine. But they need to do something else … and their options are limited. I’ve suggested a class action, which would require a group to consult a lawyer about taking their case up, a consultation that would also help to determine the best focus for such legal action, but there’s also a possibility of complaining to the Oficina de Defensa de los Derechos de los Usuarios Sanitarios (Patients’ Rights Ombudsman, basically) – see HERE. To my mind, given the increasing pressure of an increasingly left behind group, the advice to WAIT is increasingly obsolete. Someone needs to do something, and that someone has to be someone who is personally affected, and the only question, to my mind, is what the something is.
Updated 16 April: Sanidad (Canarias) has called for everyone born in or between 1952 and 1955 who has not yet been vaccinated against covid19 to call 012, or 928 301 012, or 922 470 012 for an appointment. Sanidad says that the system for this age group is in addition to the one already being carried out proactively as programmed by Sanidad (Canarias) by phone or text message. The system starts today, and is intended to speed up the administering of vaccination since supplies are more than adequate for the existing system which is currently processing the 66 and 69 year old group.
In addition, there are from today new mass vaccination points in Tenerife, meaning that the university in La Laguna, in Garachico as posted recently, as well as in HUC, Candelaria Hospital, El Mojón, Primary Care HQ in Santa Cruz, and the Casa del Emprendedor in Los Realejos are all available: the Recinto Ferial near the Santa Cruz auditorium will also become a mass vaccine point in the near future as will the Magma Centre in the south, where there is also one in El Mojón. And, of course, vaccines are given in health centres. Obviously we are told where to attend when allocated an appointment.
To be specific, Sanidad says that if you are not between 66 and 69 years old, and if you’ve already had an appointment given you, do not call as you are already in that system. Obviously. The Government confirms that as soon as this age bracket is done, calls wil be put out for other age groups. We will all note that there is no mention here of private patients. The call is for all between 66 and 69 who haven’t been appointed yet, which suggests state patients but doesn’t expressly say so. I would give it a go if I were a privately insured individual wanting the vaccine …
Sanidad (Canarias) reminds the public that the 012 admin line is a 24/7/365 line, so please keep trying if it’s engaged when you call.
Updated 15 April: I’m afraid that the project to compile a list of Ayuntamientos where private patients can access the vaccination has come to an early conclusion. It is not going to work. Some people have successfully got a vaccine, or become registered for one, through their councils, but these are quite obviously now the exceptions rather than the rule. The almost unanimous response has been that the roll-out of the vaccination programme is the preserve – the sole preserve – of the Canarian Government working within the national Health Department’s framework. Further confirmations have been received that Alta Temporal or Alta Provisional is not something that can be used as a backdoor onto a doctor’s list, and in any case appears to be related only to the EHIC system (as was) and so only for visitors, not residents.
As we know, the FCDO is compiling a new and developing list of regions where there’s confirmed information about how those who are not registered for state healthcare can access the vaccine. The Canaries are not yet included, however, but at the moment this is at least one avenue that’s trying to establish what private patients can do. All roads, though, seem to lead to the insurers. This is what the national Government has said private patients must do; it is also what has been repeated explicitly by the Canarian Government – both Sanidads, national and regional, are saying speak to your insurers. It is already abundantly clear, however, that the insurers are washing their hands of the matter, so some force appears to be necessary, and that can only come from the national Government.
I’m sorry that this attempt has failed but at least it’s established that the confirmed cases we’ve heard of, of people with no state cover but private insurance getting either the vaccine or onto a local waiting list for it, are exceptions, not the rule. The advice above, in bold, will remain because obviously it’s worth the attempt in case it works for any individual, but henceforth the only thing private patients can really do with any expectation of success is wait for the FCDO’s info for the Canaries and the national Government to legislate for the insurers to do their job. Neither avenue seems very hopeful at present, I’m afraid, because the regional Government appears not to be considering the issue at all, apparenty considering it to have been dealt with already by the national Government’s instruction to insurance companies to engage with the matter. So … anyone got any ideas? anyone up for a class action against their insurance company? Can’t see much alternative. I am really sorry.
Two other points just to finish off. The Danish story from yesterday … it needs stressing that Denmark is not saying it’s ditched AZ because the risks are too high. The risks are no higher than they were before. Their reasoning is that their cases are really low, they’re doing really well with covid, and they can afford not to avail themselves of a vaccine with any risk of that level. The reason they’re doing so well, many experts think, is that they have an overriding policy of Test, Test, Test: apparently a low percentage of the entire population, something like 8% or so, is tested every single day! I remember early on last year an immunology expert saying that the only answer to this in the long term would be a regime of test, test, test … seems he was right! The second very minor thing to finish with is that I’m feeling absolutely fine today, totally back to normal, just a rather sore patch on my arm where I had the injection.
Updated 6pm, 14/4: Merely reporting this … I had AZ myself and was glad to have any vaccine that had been approved and was being monitored for risks inevitable in any new treatment, a standard procedure in new medicines. I have felt pretty grotty for over 24 hours now but beginning to feel much better and reassured by medical experts saying that the stronger the reaction to the vaccine, the higher the immunity it’s bestowed. I’ve not won the lottery yet, despite trying, and the odds of dying from the AZ (or any) vaccine are far more extreme, we are advised by those who know what they’re talking about.
And yet Denmark has ditched AstraZeneca completely, the Danish health authorities have announced today, citing the potential link to a rare but serious form of blood clot. They add that their decision will push back the scheduled conclusion of the country’s vaccination programme especially with the delays over the J&J/Janssen vaccine which has been associated with similar clotting concerns, and which Denmark has also anyway suspended.
Astrazeneca said it respected Denmark’s choice and would continue to provide it with data to inform future decisions. “Implementation and rollout of the vaccine programme is a matter for each country to decide, based on local conditions,” a company representative said. The EMA said that despite a possible link between AZ and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), the risk of dying from COVID-19 was much greater than the risk of mortality from rare side effects, but left it to individual states to make their own risk assessments and decide how to administer the vaccine.
Updated 1pm, 14/4: I’m grateful to Julie Markwell for bringing to my attention this statement from the mayor of Garachico, Jose Heriberto Gonzalez Rodriguez. He says:
In some of the media you may have seen news about the possible establishment of a mass vaccination point in Garachico. In fact, about a month ago I was informed by the Canarian Health Service of the intention and since then they have been looking into technical details and we have had various conversations and meetings to specify the various arrangements that would fall to the Ayuntamiento.
From the off I said that I’d be delighted for Garachico to be the location for this point, and that we were prepared to provide whatever buildings, spaces or resources were needed. In these matters I firmly believe that we have to work together without looking the other way.
I haven’t made a statement about this until today because it wasn’t confirmed and there was no specific date but now we have confirmation that from next Thursday 15 April a mass vaccination point will start operating in Garachico in addition to the one established in Los Realejos in the north of Tenerife.
The intention is to vaccinate here most of the citizens of the North West Region (from La Guancha to Buenavista) with opening hours extended as increasing vaccine supplies arrive in the Canaries, reaching around 500 vaccinations per day in Garachico.
Finally, the place chosen by Sanidad (Canarias) is the Medical Clinic because it’s fully equipped for the purpose. This will mean the closure of the section of the street between the doctor’s surgery and the church tower where we will put up some tents with chairs for people to wait. We have also provided another 25 chairs for inside the surgery. Signs will be put up from the entrance by the swimming pool indicating the exact vaccination site and we will reserve parking spaces for those coming to be vaccinated here.
We will have some inconvenience as a result of this but, as I’ve said, in such situations we have to make it so that people coming for their vaccination feel comfortable and that it’s all done in the best possible way. The important thing is to put an end to this pandemic that is causing us so much harm.
I, as Mayor, am delighted that my municipality is collaborating in everything with such a great cause as this and I ask for everyone’s understanding and collaboration.
Updated 8pm, 13/4: Sanidad (Spain) has confirmed a few details about its strategy with the four vaccines currently approved for use in Spain (I know that there are currently subsequent issues with the Janssen one but this information will apply for anyone who receives it at any point). Sanidad says that three of the vaccines need two doses, the Janssen one only one dose, and that immunity is anticipated to be high when administered in the set timescales, as follows:
- AstraZeneca: 2 doses separated by 10-12 weeks. Immunity bestowed – 59.5%
- Pfizer/BioNTech: 2 doses separated by at least 21 days. Immunity bestowed – 95%
- Moderna: 2 doses separated by 28 days. Immunity bestowed – 94.1%
- Janssen: 1 dose. Immunity bestowed – 66.9%
Updated 13 April: Well that was easy! Those going for AZ at El Mojón approach the principal entrance and then turn left before it, there’s a sign “Vacuna” with an arrow pointing to the left where another long single-storey building has five open doors. You queue outside the first door to see the person processing arrivals, show your ID and confirm your name and appointment time and get sent to wait outside one of doors two to five. When you are called in you sit to the side of the desk and the person at the screen asks (asked me, anyway) if you have ever had asthma, any serious allergies, any vaccination in the last week (!), which arm you use the least, and then a second nurse gives you the vaccine in the one you indicate.
You’re then told when you’ll be called for the second dose, in my case it was end June/beg July, and given advice to take paracetamol if feverish or headache symptoms are felt within ten to 24 hours: after that, we should call the doctor immediately for any problems. Finally, we go into the waiting room (open airy space) for quarter of an hour and then, if no immediate reaction, home … where I am now. Off for a siesta, I think, treating myself very gently even though the only reactions I can identify right now are a sensation in my arm that’s on the slightly heavy/sore cusp, and my head feels the very slightest increase of normal pressure … not even enough to qualify as a slight headache. Hopefully that will continue to be the case!
Updated 11 April: So, I am now getting the AZ vaccine on Tuesday, and therefore I can confirm some things that I’ve not previously been able to say with certainty. First, AZ vaccines are being given in El Mojón to patients (currently) between 60 and 65, others are getting Pfizer and Moderna in their health centres: anyone over 65 who has not yet heard from their health centre should be calling their health centre to see when their appointment is. Appointments made by health centres are generally done by telephone whereas the hospital appointments are made by SMS text. In our case the appointment was for JA and since my husband and I share those initials, a phone call to 012 was needed to clarify: they answered immediately, I was on hold only for five minutes, and was then put through to a Carmen who was as helpful as anyone could ever be.
Carmen said that when attending appointments for vaccine, one should bring along ID (obvious perhaps, but some might not think of it), wear clothing sufficiently loose to enable a shoulder to be fully exposed for the vaccination, and to take a paracetamol … this was clarified as to be taken before not after the vaccination if at all possible, and obviously not if there’s ever been any issue with taking paracetamol, in which case the GP should be consulted as to an alternative.
I have no idea whether the paracetamol thing is a new instruction, perhaps related to the rare side effects, or just a general suggestion, but obviously at the moment we only know that it’s a suggestion for the vaccine I’m getting, i.e. AstraZeneca. (Subsequently confirmed in Readers’ Comments by Else that paracetamol is recommended here also for Pfizer and Moderna too). And of course, this is a state system appointment so private patients still have to wait, I’m afraid, as the attempt to get information about their vaccines continues, as per the most recent update below this.
I’ll keep you updated as to how it goes, what information I’m given about a second vaccination, how it feels …
Updated 1pm, 9/4: As we saw in the 5pm, 7/4 update, the FCDO is compiling a new and developing list of regions where there’s confirmed information about how those who are not registered for state healthcare can access the vaccine. The Canaries are not yet included, and while we wait to see if there’s any regional system in place we can at least start to list the Ayuntamientos in our region where people have successfully sorted out registration for vaccine purposes if nothing else. I’ll start the list with these few … please let me know on the Readers’ Comments page or by email: let’s just list Ayuntamientos in the Canaries, not just Tenerife, where someone’s succeeded – and how they did it – or we’ll have an unmanageable mess if it’s just everyone’s experiences, even failures.
Arona: Success for us … registering at our local Medical Centre, but only after several visits, but none the less success at last. Sadly no thanks to our private medical insurer, not even empathy of the situation. Perseverance seems the word. Hopefully this situation will become less problematic for others as time moves on.
Arguineguín: we visited the local centro de salud in Arguineguin. We took our Padron, TIE cards, passports, certificate of private health insurance and Spanish mobile phone number. I said that we wanted to register for the covid vaccine. The lady at reception looked at all the information and entered our data onto the computer. Finally our names and telephone number were added to a list “Lista de extranjeros para la vacuna Covind”. We were told to wait for a call on the mobile. Lets see.
Icod de los Vinos: contacted our Mayor via a letter in spanish for his advice. Within 12 hours we got an email response in Spanish detailing the action we should take, this was followed up by a personal telephone call to my wife from the Mayor´s Secretary. The Mayor stated he will put the information onto the Town web page. We acting on the Mayor advice passed the information onto people we know in the Icod de Los Vinos region who are in the same situation as us. To date my wife and I and two others have successfully got onto the vaccine roll out list using the system below.
Puerto de la Cruz: I went to the Centro Salud in Puerto de La Cruz, gave them a copy of my TIE and private insurance card (no idea if that was needed) phone number and age. They said no need to register for temporary SIP, they would add me to their list.
San Miguel: one person has been contacted by the health centre without being registered there. They were on the padrón so we have to assume that San Miguel is taking from the padrón.
Updated 9 April: Sanidad (Spain) will give AZ to those aged between 60 and 65 and will then give it to a group comprising those aged 66 to 69. Sanidad says that this is in order to get the most vulnerable population vaccinated as quickly as possible, and stresses that AZ is not going to be the only vaccine used in these age groups. It all depends on availability as to which vaccine these age groups get, and anyone who has already had a first AZ dose will be informed shortly about a decision, still to be made, on the second dose. Meanwhile, Canarian President Ángel Torres has said that despite the inevitable slowdown that will be caused by the setback of restricting AZ to the over 60s, currently only the 60-65 age group, he was still committed to getting 70% of the Canary Islands population immunised this summer.
Updated 8 April: Despite the EMA’s confirmation yesterday that AZ should continue to be used for all age groups, the subsequent Interterritorial Health Council of all the regional health departments in Spain decided, national Health Secretary Carolina Darias said last night, that Spain will be administering AZ vaccines from tomorrow only to those over 60. This reverses the earlier policy where AZ was restricted to younger individuals, and we are to expect further announcements later today after a meeting of the Public Health Commission.
Updated 5pm, 7/4: To give an idea of how fragmented the vaccine administration is in Spain because of its constitutional system, with health a power devolved to regional Government, the FCDO has started to provide information about how people who are not in the state system but who have private medical insurance can register within their regions to be included in the covid vaccination programme. They stress, as have we all from the off, that Spain wants everyone to have a vaccination who wants one: they won’t force anyone but with a public health emergency affecting the whole country, there is no restriction envisaged for a single soul of any nationality who wants to be vaccinated against covid. The list of regions where the Embassy in Madrid has confirmed information about how those who are not registered for state healthcare can access the vaccine is below: you will see the Canaries is not yet included but the FCDO is continuing to seek information for all regions so this is a work in progress. Again, all we can do is try the three steps I’ve identified in bold at the top of the page, and wait …
- Andalucíá: You can register for the vaccine here: https://www.sspa.juntadeandalucia.es/…/alta-en-bdu-para…. More information: https://www.andavac.es/campanas/covid/
- Andorra: For information see: https://www.govern.ad/preinscripcio/
- Balearic Islands: To register for the vaccine, please call 971 211 999. Further information: https://www.ibsalut.es/vacuna-covid-19
- Cataluña: If you are already registered on the padrón, you can apply online here: https://catsalut.gencat.cat/…/programes-interes…/
- Murcía: You can register online for the vaccine here: https://portalsalud.carm.es/portalsalud/principal/inicio… or call: 900121212
- Valencia Region (Comunidad Valenciana): You will need to go to your local health centre where you can register and you will be given a provisional health card to cover the vaccination and any other public health needs.
Updated 7 April: The European Medicines Agency said yesterday that a link clearly exists between the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca and a rare form of blood clot even though the cause is still unknown: it promised an updated statement on AZ safety in coming hours. This afternoon, the EMA has said that there is a possible link to very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets. Nonetheless, the agency considers the overall benefit outweighs any risk, though patients should be made aware of possible side effects which include “unusual blood clots” in the very rare category, and as a result, AZ should continue to be used for all age groups.
Emer Cooke, EMA’s Executive Director, said that the “EMA will continue to monitor all the scientific evidence available on both effectiveness and safety of all the authorised COVID-19 vaccines and will issue further recommendations, if necessary, on the grounds of robust evidence.” Sabine Straus, chair of the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee responsible for assessing and monitoring the safety of human medicines. said that a detailed review had been carried out into “62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021, 18 of which were fatal” but that no specific risk factors were identifiable at present based on current data and so PRAC was not recommending any specific measures to reduce the risk.
Straus confirmed that the EMA will carry out further research and analysis in this area, and continue to assess all evidence that becomes available while the vaccination campaigns continue. She said that it was of great importance that health professionals and those receiving vaccines were aware of these risks and looked out for possible signs or symptoms that usually occur in the first fortnight after vaccination. Most of the cases so far have been in women under 60, and there is some suggestion that one potentially fruitful avenue for research is whether there could be an interaction between the vaccine and the contraceptive pill. The EMA, however, does not think based on current evidence that age and gender are clear risk factors for what remain very rare side effects.
Since AZ is a British-Swedish pharma-biotech company, it’s worth mentioning that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have also held a press conference at the same time as the EMA. The MHRA and JCVI say pretty much the same thing, unsusprisingly, but they are a bit more emphatic about the risk, identifying the possibility of a connection as strong, with 79 cases resulting in 19 deaths (three under age 19) all occurring after the first dose of AZ, a total rate of around 4/1m. The MHRA and JCVI maintain the stance that the benefits continue to outweigh any risks for most people but say that pregnant women should discuss the risks with their doctor, anyone with a history of blood disorders should only be given AZ when a risk assessment has been carried out in their cases, and anyone who suffers clotting episodes should not receive it.
Prof Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI, said that people aged 18 to 29 without any underlying conditions should be offered an alternative to the AZ vaccine if one is available. The reasoning for the decision to offer an alternative to healthy individuals under 30 is that the slightly higher risk perceived to be carried by younger people doesn’t affect the overall risk-benefit balance because older people are at significantly greater risk from covid and its complications. The UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Office Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said that this meant a change of course in the UK for administering AZ, but that such changes of course in such programmes were totally standard and to be expected. He added that they could have made the age cut off 50 but switching from AZ in the 40 to 49 age group would avoid a potential 0.5 harmful incidents per 100,000 people but could risk an extra 51.5 ICU admissions. As such, he says, stopping it at age 50 would have been absurd. They have to make a risk-benefit balance judgment and in this, both MHRA and JCVI concurred with age 30.
Clearly, individual scientists and countries will evaluate this risk-benefit balance differently, but amongst all the science, many of us will just be relieved to get a vaccine. I guess quite a few will feel some relief if it turns out to be the Pfizer or Moderna one, but all of us, for sure, will be pleased to know that research continues into whatever connections exist or do not exist between these clotting incidents and any covid vaccine.
Updated 5pm, 6/4: Everyone is aware that the EU roll-out of vaccine doses has been sluggish, to say the least. There are all sorts of explanations and theories about the programme, with some arguing that it should have been left to individual countries because the Commission itself is overly bureaucratic and others arguing that given the way individual countries have been fighting like rats in a sack over their own provision it’s just as well that the Commission was in control of the European response. Over recent weeks, however, systems seem to have become embedded and production increased, no doubt partly the result of ongoing research and work on vaccines which are approved but still experimental because this is a new virus.
Dose delivery is therefore expected to increase substantially over coming weeks, and this afternoon Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has announced that the country is expecting around 38 million vaccines of a contracted 87 million doses to arrive between April and June, 3.5 times as many doses the country received between January and March. Over the next three months, the whole country will be focused on getting those to everyone waiting for their vaccines, who will no doubt be reassured to know that the day they’re hoping for is getting closer all the time. As Sánchez says, the country’s priority is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.
Updated 6 April: On the very day that the European Medicines Agency has said that there is a clear link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare form of blood clot even though the cause is still unknown, and that the EMA would be making an updated statement on AZ in “coming hours”, Tenerife has its first fatality in someone who received it very recently. As fits the usual profile for albeit very rare deaths in individuals shortly after receiving this vaccine, this patient was female, under 50 years of age, and had various underlying conditions. She was offered the vaccine because she worked for a charity though without frontline responsibilities. She is said to have started to suffer severe headaches a few days after receiving her vaccine and was admitted to hospital where she died.
The results of the autopsy which was carried out are still awaited, and the authorities are very keen to avoid panic. Sanidad says that the post mortem investigation could take up to three weeks because there are particular aspects to the work given the potential involvement of the approved but still experimental vaccine. The results, apart from being published for the public, will be included internationally in all studies being carried out into AZ and possible associated problems. Sanidad says, however, that there really should be no cause for alarm among the public waiting for the vaccine or who have recently had it because AZ has been cleared of suspicion of causing the two other deaths in Spain in those who’d had the vaccine. Again both were women, both under 65, but neither had clots and neither death is considered to have resulted from the vaccination. There is apparently one other case at present in northern Spain of a 55-year-old woman who has been admitted to hospital with a brain clot after receiving an AZ vaccine.
Meanwhile, we await the EMA’s updated statement.
Updated 25 March: Sanidad (Canarias) has administered 253,260 doses so far, the health department has announced, of which 8,328 were given yesterday, the highest number administered in a single day so far in the Canaries. This means that 91,350 people in the Canaries have now received their full two dose inoculation. To give an idea of the breakdown of manufacturers, Sanidad says that yesterday 4,365 doses were Pfizer, 1,344 Moderna, and 2,619 AstraZeneca, the last as we know only being given to those of 65 or under. Carolina Darias has already announced that the rate of distribution should increase from next month and the rate of administering the vaccines will rise correspondingly.
In terms of groups for vaccination, group 3 is now 99.7% complete for one dose and 20.15% with two doses. Group 4 is at 88.7%/58%, group 5 at 42.15%/14.3%, and group 6 at 26.3% for first dose. The groups are defined now as:
Group 1. Residents annd health and care workers in nursing and old people’s homes
Group 2. Frontline health and care staff
Group 3. Other health and care staff
– Group 3A. Other hospital staff, dental workers etc
– Group 3B. Public health and response personnel, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chemists, etc
– Group 3C. Other health and care sector workers
Group 4. Those heavily dependent on care but not in a home
Group 5. The elderly:
– Group 5A. 80+
– Group 5B. 70-79
– Group 5C. 60-69
Group 6. Essential workers:
– Group 6A. armed forces and police, emergency workers
– Group 6B. Teachers and personnel in nursery and special education
– Group 6C. Teachers and personnel in primary and secondary education
Group 7. Under 60s with high risk conditions
Group 8. 56-59 year olds
Group 9. 45-55 year olds
Updated 22 March: National Health Secretary Carolina Darias has announced this evening that Spain will resume administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from Wednesday to all under the age of 65.
Updated 20 March: One reader has sent me the following and I reproduce it virtually verbatim so that if any authorities are reading this, as I know they do, they can see what a genuine member of the public, a British national resident in Tenerife with private medical insurance, actually thinks. There must be a solution and no-one will surely reject a proferred suggestion …
Correspondence from [insurance company which I won’t name in public]. They are playing ping pong and not answering the questions put to them. However I understand why they are not doing so, they are a for profit organization and have no intention of spending time which equals money on doing the Government’s job for them. The solution to this is simple:
1. The Spanish Government asks all expats legally resident here to forward their details to the relevant health authority. They can even make it really easy for themselves if they produce an online form that we can fill in (in Spanish). This information can then with no human input on their behalf put into their system. This is basic computer programming.
2. The second solution is for the British Embassy to ask for our information via an online form with simple questions, name, address, DNI or TIE, Health insurance provider etc. They then pass the list onto the Spanish Government.
This is not rocket science, the Spanish Government want information and it can be given to them directly or via the Embassy. … The solutions I have outlined above will work, the expat residents here legally can easily supply the information required via an online form either direct to the Spanish Government or the British Embassy.
Updated 19 March: There is increasing anger at what one reader, with some justification, calls “extranjero ping pong”. I am being contacted by people who are being ignored by their insurers, told they know nothing, and in one case told explicitly that “even with a no co payments policy you are not entitled to a COVID vaccine” … and this is the sort of policy required, of course, for those registering as residents who are not contributing to the state system. People are being told “to register with a social doctor” by insurers who don’t seem to have clocked on that if their client had been able to do this they probably would have done it, and that if they were still to be able to do it they might well cancel their private policy! Others have been told that “the vaccine roll out is based on your being on the SIP” – you might not have heard of the SIP, for good reason, since it’s a system used by the Health Department in the Comunidad Valenciana and not in the Canaries … and yes, the client was in the Canaries not the Valencia region. And this all takes place in the context of insurers being instructed by national Government to become involved and play their part.
There are complaints that the FCDO is sending people to the Spanish authorities, that the Spanish authorities are sending people to their insurers, and their insurers are sending them back to the FCDO. This is unacceptable for people who, in no small part, have great concerns because they are in vulnerable groups, often age related but sometimes medically vulnerable. The one party, I would say, that is completely innocent in this is actually the FCDO. All they can do is help British nationals in trouble in Spain, they aren’t magicians, nor do they have any particular leverage with Sanidad (Spain), Sanidad (Canarias) or Sanidad (any other region of Spain!). All they can do is pass on what the Spanish authorities are saying and doing because this is a Spanish issue that has nothing to do with Brexit, the EU, the UK, or anything else. It is a health emergency with a national Spanish response being coordinated at regional Spanish level (in our case, Canarian).
One idea that one reader has already come up with is to liaise with the councils but as I’ve reported previously, this is already in hand: the problem is the number of people who aren’t on the padrón despite years of pleading with them to get registered locally. Even if the ones on the padrón were to be contacted at some point, the rest would be invisible, and in any case, it would require action from the insurance companies who at this point seem determined to bat away all responsibility. I’m hearing right now of Adeslas and Caser but no doubt readers will know of other insurers saying similar things. Some solution must exist or be found but I have no idea what. But people really have to stop blaming the FCDO and, in particular, the Consular staff who will be tearing their hair out at what are now very many angry people a day banging their table when they are the last ones able to do anything. If anyone has any bright ideas, please do post in the Readers Comments page HERE! (and just a reminder that comments along the lines of “brilliant UK nasty EU” aren’t being approved. This is a pandemic not an opportunity for nationalism or point scoring)
Updated 8pm, 18/3: Carolina Darias, Spanish Health Minister has said this evening that Spain will resume administering AZ vaccine from next Wednesday assuming approval from the Interterritorial Council of Health Ministers on Monday.
Updated 18 March: There is a phenomenal amount of hype about the AZ vaccine being suspended throughout the world, with the main thrust being that it has been banned – not true, it’s been suspended – and that it was the EU behind the suspension – not true, it was national Governments, and not just in Europe either. Now that same hype has turned to the European Medicines Agency’s report on the safety of the vaccine. What the EMA has actually said today is that the vaccine is overwhelmingly safe to use in general public health terms, and should be used because it does the job. What it has also said, however, is that the Agency has firmly concluded that there is no evidence of a quality or a batch issue: if there is an issue with this vaccine it is with the vaccine, not any particular batch.
The problem, reported Dr Sabine Strauss who chairs EMA’s vaccine safety committee, is that tiny clots developed in multiple blood vessels in the first two weeks after vaccination. This happened in a few cases as well as in a few other cases clots developed in blood vessels, depriving the brain of blood. In both instances, the link is with low levels of blood platelet, and this is what they have to continue to investigate because the evidence available at present is “not sufficient to conclude with certainty whether these adverse events are indeed caused by the vaccine or not.”
I stress, Dr Strauss says that overall the AZ vaccine is safe, and the overarching public health benefits are crystal clear, but further studies are to be commissioned. I know that we don’t have the training or experience as non-medical laity to make judgments on this but we can at least read what the scientists say direct and not through an unnecessarily offended or nationalist filter. The bottom line is that the EMA has not ruled out a link – and a causal link at that – between the AZ vaccine and blood clots. Information will now be changed on leaflets accompanying the distributed doses while further studies are undertaken.
Obviously countries everywhere including Spain have awaited this announcement and how they will now react will soon be clear. And all will also have an eye on the EMA’s future studies and whether they also extend to the J&J/Janssen vaccine because that’s also a vector one.
Updated 16 March: The FCDO has issued this updated statement about the vaccine rollout in Spain that will be especially of interest to the many enquiries we are getting about private patients. In particular, they say that the Spanish authorities “are asking insurance companies to coordinate with regional health services in order to provide vaccines to their customers.” They say that those with private insurance should speak to their insurers, and although this might seem unsatisfactory to those who say they’ve already spoken to their insurers and that they know nothing, this is the best that can be done at present. The insurers here have been asked to speak to Sanidad (Canarias) so if they know nothing they need to explain why not because they’ve specifically been asked to get involved. Here is the FCDO statement:
We are receiving questions from some of you about how you will get the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain, especially those of you who live here and have private healthcare, rather than being in the state system.
The Spanish government’s vaccination strategy is to provide the vaccine to everyone in Spain as a matter of public health, regardless of nationality or how you access healthcare in Spain. You can see this statement here in the FAQ section of the vaccination strategy: https://www.vacunacovid.gob.es/…/que-deben-hacer-para…
To see the order in which people are being vaccinated in Spain please see … here: https://www.vacunacovid.gob.es/preguntas…/cuando-me-vacuno. The Vaccination Strategy is updated regularly to include new priority groups as the number of doses available gradually increases.
Spain operates its health system regionally. We are in touch with Spanish authorities about the vaccine rollout and what this means for UK nationals resident in Spain.
UK nationals living in Spain who are already registered for state healthcare will be contacted by their regional health service to make an appointment. The Spanish authorities are asking insurance companies to coordinate with regional health services in order to provide vaccines to their customers. Meanwhile UK nationals living in Spain can contact their local health centre or private insurance company for more information.
The Spanish government vaccination strategy is available here: https://www.vacunacovid.gob.es
Meanwhile, because the vaccinations here are administered more slowly than we’d like, and because the vaccine we get is of great interest for many, and because there’s a furore of ridiculous dimensions over the suspension of the AZ vaccine in several countries around the world, not just in Europe – nor even just in the EU – here’s a short twitter thread by Dr Stephen de Looze, an Oxford and Freiburg Universities biochemist, to answer what he says is “the twisted arguments and blinkered ignorance of those who think this is somehow Brexit-related revenge by the EU”:
All medical interventions carry a risk of side effects. We accept horrible ones if the condition warrants it (eg those of anti-cancer drugs, or limb amputation for untreatable gangrene). But what is an acceptable risk for a headache treatment when alternatives are available? The latter consideration isn’t theoretical. The excellent analgesic available in Germany for decades, Novalgin, is not approved in the UK due to a v. rare but potentially fatal blood disorder (agranulocytosis) linked to treatment. No-one thinks this is UK revenge on Germany.
It’s common (and not political) for regulators to differ. The regulatory dilemma is yet more acute for a vaccine to be given to healthy people, most of whom are at a tiny risk of serious disease themselves, but who are urged to take it voluntarily as a public health measure. The new data in Germany show a 700% increase in the incidence of a rare type of brain thrombosis (CVST) just days following AZ vaccination, in 3 cases leading to death. The condition remains rare, but the timing and huge % increase very strongly suggest a link to treatment. (So people tweeting that the level of thrombosis in vaccinees is just background do not have the full facts. And do those denying there is a problem at all and it’s just “politics” think that the AZ vaccine is so sacred that any side effect is impossible?)
It is precisely for such rare but deadly side effects that pharmacovigilance systems have been established. They are done at a national level because the risk may be different in different populations due to lifestyle (diet, smoking, etc.), drug interactions (different drug prescribing habits per country), different ethic mix, etc. The job of the systems is to establish the cause of the link in order to manage the risk (eg giving at-risk patients alternative treatment). In this case, it is striking that most victims are women and all are in their 20s to 50s. This certainly warrants painstaking risk analysis.
It’s also crucial to know if this is specific to a particular batch (so not a big issue), or to the treatment itself. If the latter, it may even extend to other similar treatments (the J&J vaccine for example is also a vector vaccine). So the implications are wide. The final decision may be formally political but politicians ignore the advice of the independent regulator at great risk. Doctors will also be in serious trouble if they ignore the regulatory advice (whatever the politicians decide) and if a patient suffers a side effect.
No-one doubts that preventing the pandemic will save vastly more lives than those at risk of a fatal but rare vaccine side effect: the best outcome of the investigations in a few days’ time will be to resume the AZ vaccine but to contra-indicate it for at-risk patients.
Updated 15 March: Spain has joined the increasing number of European countries that have suspended administering the AZ/Oxford vaccine while links with blood clotting are investigated. Sanidad (Spain) Minister Carolina Darias has announced. Although there is no suggestion that the links considered to exist are actually “causal”, there has been an hysterical reaction to the announcement – that it’s an anti-British move, that it’s the EU trying to “own the Brits”, that it’s “punishment” for Brexit. Nonetheless, the suspension is the result of reservations and caution by various wholly independent and highly respected bodies like the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut in Germany.
To be clear, the suspension has not been at the instigation of any national Government let alone the EU, indeed two of the first three countries to suspend the administration were Norway and Iceland, neither an EU member. Nonetheless national Governments within and without the EU have taken the advice of their independent scientists, and have suspended for reasons of caution. Hopefully clarity will ensue in short order because with the far from perfect roll out of procurement and distribution of any vaccine through the EU we need all the doses we can get but Darias said that the suspension in Spain will last a couple of weeks while analysis by the EMA is awaited into potential connections between the AZ vaccine and thrombosis. This evening the Canarian Government has confirmed that it has suspended the adminstering of AZ vaccine in the Canaries in accordance with national criteria.
Updated 12 March: For those worried about reports concerning blood clotting problems in at least one batch of AstraZeneca vaccine, Sanidad (Canarias) has said that it will continue administering the vaccine here with the exception of 260 doses from that particular lot. These vaccines have been set aside temporarily until doubts are clarified given the concerns in northern Europe, especially Norway and Denmark, but as a general provision, the Ministry says that it continues to consider AstraZeneca safe, and that some 27,500 doses of it have already been administered in these islands.
The European Medicines Agency has actually said that several cases are being investigated of immune thrombocytopenia, a condition resulting from lack of platelets in the blood that can lead to internal bleeding, and which has been reported under its vaccine safety monitoring process. Importantly, though, all three covid vaccines already approved in the bloc – AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer – could be linked to the issue, not just AstraZeneca, and the EMA says that it’s still unclear “whether there is a causal association between vaccination and the reports of immune thrombocytopenia”.
Updated 11 March: The European Medicines Agency has given a positive evaluation as both safe and effective of the single dose COVID-19 vaccine by Janssen, the EU Commission has announced today, confirming that it will now move quickly to grant marketing authorisation. In Spain, Sanidad (Spain) minister Carolina Darias says that the announcement is a great step forward for the vaccination strategy, and that indications were that supplies would start to come through in the second half of April, gradually increasing from then. She said that she expected some 5.5m doses to arrive which would start to be administered fully in May and June. Meanwhile Sanidad (Canarias) has said that more than 7,000 vaccines were administered in one day for the first time here yesterday, at which point 59,418 people had been immunised fully with two doses.
Updated 10 March: As more and more are vaccinated, albeit more slowly than many would like, it is possible, as always with any medication, that some might experience adverse effects from their vaccination. Sanidad, both nationally and regionally, is following and assessing any such reports, and so anyone who has or thinks they have an adverse reaction to the vaccination is asked to report it. You can do this either by phone to 922 677 281, through the national website HERE, or regionally HERE. The authorities ask people not to be alarmed or concerned by this procedure which is absolutely standard, and they confirm that as of now there has not been a single adverse reaction in the Canaries to any of the covid vaccines.
Updated 9 March: Sanidad (Canarias) has administered 175,259 doses of the three vaccines currently available in the EU, 79.78% of all the doses received so far in these islands, a total of 219,680. The Canarian Government’s update is to the figures as of Sunday, and it confirms that 56,190 people in these islands have already been immunised with two doses of the vaccine, 4.17%. A further breakdown shows that 147,961 of the 151,680 Pfizer doses available have been administered, 20,136 of the 53,700 AstraZeneca, and 7,162 of the 14,300 Moderna doses.
Further doses continue to arrive in batches as Spain itself receives them from an EU procurement that is widely acknowledged to be less than ideal. The programme continues with what is available, nonetheless, and the Government says that the non-capital islands are inevitably making faster progress with the established schedule simply due to their having a lower population. Overall, however, the two-dose vaccination of groups 1 and 2 has been completed, and vaccination is currently continuing for groups 3 to 6, obviously in different stages, and group 4 is expected to be completed this week.
In addition, the vaccine has now started to be administered to teachers in La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and Lanzarote, and in Tenerife and Gran Canaria the Nursing Colleges of both provinces are being used as vaccination points for health professionals like speech therapists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists and dental technicians. Group vaccination posts are established in HUC and Candelaria Hospitals, as well as the Hospital del Sur, and in La Laguna’s Primary Healthcare HQ and the Centro Ciudadano Las Madres de Padre Anchieta.
One very positive sign in the Canaries is that there appears to be virtually no refusal of the vaccine when it’s offered. Rejection is estimated to be running at between 0.5% and 1% only. Meanwhile, we remain in the situation where patients in the state system wait to be called and those in the private system wait to be informed of how they will be vaccinated within the state system.
Updated 3 March: Currently the most frequent issue for questions is when someone will get their vaccine. As I’ve said repeatedly, most recently just five days ago, I do not know. No-one knows yet. Those who are in the state system must wait to be called by their surgery which will process their lists according to priority groups determined by the national vaccine strategy. Those who are not in the state system must wait for information about how they will be dealt with because Spain wants everyone who wants a vaccine to get one but they’re being distributed and administered to the regional health authorities and they are dealing with state system patients first. In either case, you will just have to wait, either for a call from your surgery or information about how you will be processed since you’re not in the state system.
Updated 26 February: Sanidad (Spain) has revised its programme strategy for groups still to receive vaccination. The full groupings are in the graphic below. The revised strategy will provide a single dose to anyone under 55 years of age who has already had covid and whose immune response is already considerably elevated and who therefore doesn’t require the double dose, as studies show. Meanwhile, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to be approved next month and it will join the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine provision. Please note that these are groupings of those within the national health system. Those who are not registered with a state doctor must still wait to see what system is to be put in place for them.
Updated 19 February: The Canary Islands are the only region of Spain that has more people who’ve received the two required doses of the vaccine than total covid case numbers. The confirmation comes from Amós García, Epidemiology chief of the Public Health Board, and Begoña Reyero, a member of the covid vaccination team based here, who reported that we now have 50,200 people who’ve received the double dose required compared with 39,040 accumulated cases. The pair also said that 3.72% of the population has now received the two doses, a percentage above the national average which is 2.42%.
García also reported that of the 140,440 doses received in the Canaries, 117,223 (83.47%) have been administered to date, and that the vaccination campaign has already completed priority group 1 (residents and workers in socio-nursing centres) and nearly finished vaccinating priority group 2 (health service professionals) where coverage has reached 99.15%, some 37,925 people. These groups overlap somewhat, and vary as results come from continued research, but they are continuing with group 3 (social care workers and those heavily dependent on care at home) and are now starting group 4 (heavily dependent on care plus carers).
The logistics of the whole exercise are clearly as vital as the medical research that produces the vaccine, and García explained that giving a vaccination to patients heavily dependent on care at home was complicated because this group comprises over 25,000 individuals who sometimes live remotely but where the dose needs to be given within six hours: as such, medics’ vaccination routes are carefully planned to ensure that everyone scheduled in a particular route on a given day gets their dose within that period.
One question that is frequently asked was also answered by García who said that the over-80s have now started to be called by their health centres. This is still at the start and there are 90,000 in this group to be contacted though that includes those in groups 1 and 4 who can therefore be deducted from that number.
The Public Health authorities’ Epidemiology chief assured the public that the Canaries was in a good position to increase and consolidate the rate of vaccine administration once the arrival of doses in the Canary Islands has stabilised. He also stressed that the entire vaccination strategy is a living and evolving plan constantly being adapted to circumstance and new scientific evidence. Clearly he would have no more time than I do for those who delight in trolling this site with boasts about the UK’s “world-beating vaccination programme” and snidely wishing “that the Canaries will get its act together soon”. Our programme is going well and doing fine, thank you very much, and ensuring that those who need it most get it first … and all of it, not just the first dose.
Updated 5 February: Sanidad (Canarias) announced yesterday that 20,260 people in the Canaries have now had the two doses required by the guidelines. This amounts to 0.94% of the population, mainly comprising residents and staff in old people’s homes and other care facilities defined as priority group 1. Obviously the programme continues and other people are still getting their second of the two vaccines but this is the situation to yesterday, the Government has confirmed. The figures compare well with the rest of Spain as a whole where 586,122 have been vaccinated with the two required doses, approximately 1.25 of the country’s population. Here in the Canaries, regional Health Minister Blas Trujillo confirmed that the ongoing programme is designed to vaccinate just short of 1.5m people in these islands by the summer if the supply of vaccines is as expected, with some 70,000 now categorized in priority group 2 receiving theirs in coming weeks.
Updated 22 January: The national Government’s Health Department has confirmed the next stage of its vaccine strategy. Sanidad says that this phase will see the continuation of second dose inoculation for the first priority group, and the first dose for the second priority group which will be those over 80 and non-frontline health and care sector workers such as dentists and others who work closely with patients without masks for more than 15 minutes.
Updated 15 January 2021: Regional President Ángel Torres has said today that all the first doses have been given of the vaccine that has been delivered to the Canaries and that the second doses will start to be given from Sunday. Torres said that the group that had been vaccinated was the priority 1 group of those heavily dependent on or in intensive or residential nursing care, plus workers in that sector. The national Government’s vaccine strategy is explained in THIS working paper, and after the first group has received its second vaccination, attention will turn to the second, that of healthcare professionals and frontline workers. While this is ongoing, those in other priority groups and then the rest of the public need to wait to be called for. As the Government has already explained, the vaccination will only be available through the national health system, but Sanidad has unofficially confirmed that it will be available for all legal residents.
There is one group, therefore, that sticks out a mile as falling between two stools – those who are fully legal residents here but who have private medical insurance, not only a perfectly legal category but one actually demanded by the immigration services for those registering without state health system eligibility. This will require private medical insurers to formulate a plan with the Department of Health but currently there is no clear information about how the system will work other than it is very likely to be a matter delegated to the powers of the devolved regional Health authorities. Meanwhile, even those in the national health system have to wait until the priority groups have all been vaccinated anyway, and the official national system website to check the progress of the vaccination programme is HERE.
Updated 30 December 2020: There has been a rush of enquiries about access to the vaccine in Spain, including to the UK authorities and so, to explain, vaccine availability in Spain is a matter for the Spanish Government, so there is absolutely no point in hassling the UK authorities about it. I use the word advisedly because that is what seems to be happening, especially from those with private medical insurance who are here, as swallows or residents, but not in the state health system. The UK cannot help with this!
The response from Spain itself to such enquiries is “ya es pronto”: it is early days so please just wait. The vaccine is being administered solely through the state system, at least at present, so it is self-evident that those not in the health system can’t access it, at least at present! There are millions of vaccines still to arrive throughout next year, and the priority system is still being drawn up, so all that’s actually known right now is which group is top priority, and they have started to receive their vaccinations.
Everyone else has to wait for more vaccines to arrive and for their priority group to be called for vaccination. Anyone not placed in a priority group will have to wait until those with priority are vaccinated first. Apart from that information, no more can be said at present.
Updated 29 December: Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has said that his department will compile a national register of those who refuse the new covid19 vaccination. Illa confirmed that the register would be shared with other EU countries but would not be publicized. With an eye no doubt to the easily anticipated reaction from conspiracy theorists, Illa said that the vaccine was not going to be mandatory, and that the register would comprise those who had been offered the vaccine through the priority groupings but who had refused it, their details being treated with maximum respect for data protection legislation. Sanidad has said that only around a quarter of the population is expected to be unwilling to have the vaccine, with a smaller proportion rejecting it outright, and that the register will help to target information and anti-misinformation campaigns.
Updated 26 December: And they’re here, the first covid vaccine doses have arrived in Spain. Un regalo de Navidad como dios manda!
Updated 18 December: Spain will begin covid vaccinations through the national health system on Sunday 27 December, Sanidad (Spain) Minister Salvador Illa announced this morning. Illa said that the necessary doses will arrive at all the country’s autonomous regions then, the day after the initial consignment is itself received in Madrid. The minister stressed that this vital stage gives great hope because it means the start of the end of the pandemic, and an end that is coordinated throughout the whole of Europe with the whole continent starting together. The deliveries will continue, Illa explained, progressively with supplies arriving weekly and with the first recipients being those identified as priority groups in the national Vaccine Strategy (see 27 Nov update below). Ultimately, he assured everyone, there will be enough doses for the whole Spanish population. Tenerife President Ángel Torres confirmed this morning that this will also apply in these islands. The vaccine’s arrival will miss Christmas Day itself but be here in time for the real day of presents when the Three Kings arrive … their Epiphany (appearance) on the Día de los Reyes Magos. What a regalo de Navidad!
Updated 27 November: Sanidad (Spain) has announced some technical details of their covid vaccine strategy. Spanish health minister Salvador Illa said that in order to be able to prioritize, his department had assessed fifteen population groups, identifying four for the first stage of innoculations nationally, with other groups to be prioritized in due course by the Inter-Territorial Council. To start, though, the first four groups prioritized for vaccination, anticipated to be in January to March next year, are residential care sector workers and residents, frontline health staff, other health workers, and other medically dependent individuals not in residential care.
The other groups include the elderly, severely disabled, people living or working in communities or closed environments, those living in socio-economic deprivation, essential workers like teachers, children and adolescents along with pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, those who are HIV positive, and people living in areas where outbreaks may occur. The assessment for grouping purposes remains open, Illa confirmed, and is subject to continuous adaptation based on available scientific information.
The Health Secretary stressed, however, that this is not going to be a quick process and that vaccination, even when underway, is going to be in stages that will take considerable time. Vaccines in the first stage will be in very limited supplies, and other groups will be immunized according to their prioritization in progressive second and third stages, as vaccine doses arrive and become available, and as information on vaccine characteristics and immunity increases. This is going to go on well into next year, if not beyond, in case anyone was thinking that vaccine availability meant some sort of silver bullet to put an end to covid.
Updated 24 November: As promised, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has presented the Government’s vaccination plan this week. He said that Spain was perfectly ready to begin administering the vaccines as soon as they’re available. The public can be absolutely certain, the PM said, that all doses used are secure. Releasing the video below, the Government says that the main objective, naturally, of the campaign is to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by the virus by providing progressively availabile vaccines and protecting the most vulnerable groups with the order of priority established by the national health system’s Inter-territorial Council based on ethical considerations and risk criteria.
The overall strategy will be coordinated by this Inter-territorial Council, which comprises the national and regional Governments. Sanidad (Spain) will acquire the required number of doses for Spain within the framework of the European strategy whereby several advance purchase agreements for vaccines have already been reached, new ones still being negotiated. The vaccines will be administered free of charge through the national health system.
The vaccine used will have the same safety levels as any of the commonly used vaccines. Efficacy levels will meet the standards required for authorized use, with guaranteed optimal storage, distribution and administration of the vaccines ensuring their quality throughout the process. The overall plan will also ensure coordination between national and regional Governments for vaccination centres taking into account the experience of Primary Care in the different systems in place in the devolved health powers throughout the autonomous communities, as well as providing tools for monitoring and evaluating the coverage, safety and effectiveness of the vaccination programme.
In this respect, work is already underway on a single registry that will collect vaccination data from across the country, interoperable with others implemented in the pandemic. A communication strategy will be implemented to help ensure that access to vaccination is effective, equitable and developed with full respect for transparency, the overall object being to generate a high level of confidence that will translate into improved coverage.
El Gobierno presenta la Estrategia de Vacunación #COVID19.— La Moncloa (@desdelamoncloa) November 24, 2020
Su principal objetivo👉🏻Disminuir la morbilidad y mortalidad causada por el virus mediante la utilización de vacunas, en un contexto de disponibilidad progresiva y protegiendo a los grupos más vulnerables.
Más detalles⤵️ pic.twitter.com/lwaXXIBBl7
Original post 20 November: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has said today that Spain will be the first EU country, together with Germany, in having a Vaccination Plan against covid19. Sánchez said that he’ll be presenting the plan to Cabinet next week, with the idea that a significant sector of the population will be vaccinated in the first half of 2021. No doubt after that meeting we’ll have some meat to put on the bare bones of the announcement, which is all we have right now.
Original post 10 November: Spanish Health minister Salvador Illa, on television this morning, has said that he thinks the announcement of a potential vaccine from Pfizer is promising and significant. Illa said that assuming clinical trials do indeed result in the vaccine being approved, Spain will be able to provide 10m immunizations free of charge from early 2021. The country intends to buy 20m initial doses, Illa explained, but each person will require two vaccinations.
Illa said that he imagined that the elderly and frontline workers would be first to be offered the vaccine but that a working group had been established to consider this and the decision had not yet been made. Also under consideration is the way in which to deal with antivax conspiracy theories, with the vaccine not intended to be compulsory in the first instance but with the Government prepared to take action against liars and the anti-scientific as needed. The minister refused to rule out the possibility that vaccination would become compulsory but said he felt sure that the public would overwhelmingly behave with sense and responsibility because people generally understood perfectly well that vaccines worked and have brought some diseases under good control or, in some cases, eradicated them completely.
We can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel after some very hard months, said the Minister, confirming strongly again that the Government will act emphatically against “those who lie and promote pseudoscience”.