Spain Covid vaccine: Denmark ditches AZ completely

  • State system patients: you will be contacted in due course by your local surgery for an appointment to receive the vaccine. You can expect to be contacted by phone or text message 24-48 hours before your appointment which you are asked to attend unless absolutely impossible. You will probably be vaccinated in a local hospital (generally with AZ for younger patients) or in your local surgery (generally Pfizer/Moderna, older patients)
  • Private medical insurance patients: the vaccine is only available through the state system but is arranged through municipalities (council areas). It cannot be bought or acquired in private centres, but Spain wants everyone who wants the vaccine to get it for public health reasons. So, to arrange your vaccine, speak first to your insurance company because that is the route the Government is arranging; if they can’t help, ask the state system health centre local to you if you can have an Alta Provisional or Alta Temporal for the purposes of vaccination (you should take at least Empadronmiento, Registro or TIE, passport); if they can’t help then you should consider approaching the mayor of the municipio to see if he can offer a solution – one privately insured person found they were added to the health centre’s records for vaccine purposes after the mayor of their municipio became involved personally
  • The Spanish Government’s overall vaccination programme website is HERE. The latest updated strategy document from 30 March 2021 is HERE, and THIS is a report to 31 March 2021 of the programme and its distribution and administration throughout Spain, with region by region figures 

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.

For what it’s worth, it’s been confirmed that the Magma Centre will perform a similar function in the south, along with the vaccination point in El Mojón and, of course, health centres.

Updated 14 April: An updated municipios list: 

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 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. 

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 …  

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!

Photo: Sanidad (España)

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. 

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”.

58 Comments

  1. And, provided we all adhere to the regulations, waiting should not pose any problems to anyone.

  2. Reading the previous posts about telephone calls from local surgery re vaccine calls – I suppose this means I’ll have to answer calls to landline and/or mobiles from unrecognised numbers which I normally ignore/leave answerphone to deal with due to the vast number of nuisance calls (even between 02,30 – 04,00!)

  3. Author

    Super confirmation, David, thank you very much!

  4. Yes they contacted me using our land line number and my wife’s appointment was contacted to our mobile phone, both calls from our local surgery and that is were we receive the jabs.

  5. I was wondering how they were contacted too Janet as my phone will block unknown numbers (due to high number of unsolicited sales calls). Our GP usually contacts us by text for other things so we are hoping that will be the method used.

  6. Author

    Super news, David. Did you get contacted by your local surgery? By phone?

  7. It may be of interest to the older people in Lanzarote who are wondering when they will get called for their vaccinations, I am 76 years old and my wife is 75 we have our appointments March 1st for me and March 2nd for my wife.

  8. Author

    Thank you both, and perhaps we can now leave the debate about the scientific side of the vaccine … we will no doubt most of us jump at the chance of one, even though in reality we will not be told which of the three (or however many are available when our turn comes) we are being given, nor will we be given a choice. Let’s leave comments now, please, for the unrolling of the vaccine programme here in Tenerife and momre widely in the Canaries and Spain.

  9. My final comment as my original post was initiated by resident friends on the island who were not aware of the Pfizer vaccine timescale issue although no doubt other residents would already be aware of it but are kind enough not to say I am not being truthful
    Unlike Ray I will not waste readers time by posting irrelevant and unsupported by scientific research links to the Astra Zeneca vaccine or others that do not support the Pfizer timescale concerns
    The evidence regarding the Pfizer vaccine timescale is widely available and like everything else is up to the individual to decide how to react to it
    Fortunately most contributors to valuable Janet’s site are happy to read of something that is posted as it may be relevant to them rather than waste theirs and others valuable time by making derogatory comments about the contributor
    It is so pleasing to read Janet’s comments about the vaccination roll out on the island . As you said Janet it was slow at first but this mirrored the slowness in many countries due to the complexity in vaccinating care homes, health professionals,isolated older individuals etc
    As you rightly said patience is needed as the process will speed up once the general population is targeted and we look forward to hearing from many friends resident on the island of the progress as it happens
    Keep safe everyone

  10. David. I can see why you would want to post from the UK about this, and that is your right (within Janet’s parmeters of course), but you seem to assume and suggest that we need “.informing”. Believe me, people are very well informed over here, if they want to be, and they do research, read articles etc I too am tired of constantly reading about the UK on this site. I really don’t care what their rules are, what Boris says, or about the fact that UK people are banned from travelling by both the UK and our governments. I have my own opinion about why that is, but it is not for this site which is In Tenerife – and so am I

  11. Obviously not David. Like all rational minds I follow and respect the established scientific evidence. For me that includes the BMJ and not people you.

  12. Great article about the vaccine programme Janet. Thank you. I had every faith. I just can’t buy into all this media-fuelled “competition” between the UK and everywhere else. To me, it feels like a ploy to direct attention away from bad news etc. Meanwhile, people are dying everywhere. The Canaries can stand tall, they have handled this pandemic with admirable common sense, even though enforcing the rules has highlighted the deficiences and underfunding in our policing system.

  13. I had hoped that raising a Pfizer vaccine issue in the UK would be helpful to Tenerife residents since the island , which hopefully this year will become our home,is in the early vaccination process and many of our friends on the island were unaware of this issue
    Having a 40 year scientific background in genetics I can state the situation and with friends in the vaccine teams I hoped readers would appreciate the Pfizer vaccine information rather than throw comments and figures to suit their own point of view which do not mirror the research and are totally irrelevant to the issue I raised with the PFIZER vaccine ( not the AZ one or others!!)
    No doubt Ray will spend the next few hours finding falsehoods and untruths regarding about the vaccine I actually mentioned!
    I am sure your Government will look at the experience of vaccinations in other countries
    I did not think it unreasonable to share our experience in the UK with those who are at the start of the same process in the hope they will take it in the spirit in which it is ment
    Regrettably not everyone appreciated this

  14. Author

    No apologies needed from anyone over this, it’s so important to us all and we’re not scientists so we depend on assured information from those who are! I’m delighted there’s room here to discuss this!

  15. Need the UK (and any other national) element(s) Julie because so many things like driving licences, banking, covid restrictions, etc have an impact on us ….. residents.

    Absolutely agree Ray. It wasn’t the posts that had me getting all keyboard warrior lol, it’s the comments that constantly seem to be comparing Spain/Tenerife with the UK. Anyway I now seem to be filling up Janets post bag in the very way that annoyed me initially (sorry Janet! ) so going to sit on my hands while I try to be more patient.

  16. Thanks Janet.

    “I can’t comment on the specifics of the vaccine dose intervals though, but I do know there was some controversy about it which suggests the science at present isn’t definitive, either way.”

    That’s why I posted the BMJ piece. It clearly puts the myth of vaccine ‘delay’ to bed. It is now proven science. It’s a non issue. That’s why I strongly disagree with the false info David posted.

    As for what each nation state does, it’s their call.

  17. Author

    I have no problem with countering untruths!! You carry on! I can’t comment on the specifics of the vaccine dose intervals though, but I do know there was some controversy about it which suggests the science at present isn’t definitive, either way. All I care about though is that here they are doing things sensibly and correctly, and I’ll just repeat that those who think it’s all happening here too slowly mistake the fact entirely … this ain’t going nowhere soon, and vaccines are not going to be the silver bullet …

    sorry about the mixed metaphors! One day no doubt Mencey will do a post himself about my mixed metaphors …. 😀

    (Ray, I’ve merged your comments into one for ease of reading)

  18. There is significant reliable scientific evidence that the second Pfizer vaccination should not be given more than 7 weeks after the first
    Those of us with a background in genetics understand

    Not true.

    I’m certainly not on a Spain vs UK campaign. Just want to counter any untruths re covid and vaccines. Enough of that rubbish elswhere on the net (as you know) and I will challenge it wherever and whenever I see it.

  19. Author

    Wasn’t my comment Ray. I’m not getting into this UK versus Spain stuff. I can’t see flagrant lies though … what are you referring to specifically?

  20. Criticism of any government is acceptable Janet but flagorant untruths about vaccines and/or how they are administered should not be tolerated and, to be honest, should be banned/removed.

  21. Need the UK (and any other national) element(s) Julie because so many things like driving licences, banking, covid restrictions, etc have an impact on us ….. residents.

  22. Author

    I agree with you Julie – discussions about the behaviour of the UK government are only relevant here if there is any connection with the situation in Tenerife. It is far too early for a post mortem on the relative successes of vaccination programmes, so why not wait and discuss it when more information is available? The problem is that there are quite a few people around who just cannot tolerate any criticism of the UK government whatsoever. This of course puts an embargo on any comment at all about Johnson et al., so when it looks as if they are actually getting something right, namely vaccination, it is so unusual that people get very annoyed when this is not recognised and praised to the sky.

  23. Not sure when this became a UK site. I am sorry Janet if this is not appropriate but I am fed up of reading about the UK and comparisons with the UK, or what the UK is doing/ not doing. I like In Tenerife because it is reliable and factual about issues in Tenerife and the Canaries. There must be a million sites for UK stuff.

  24. To suggest that the UK Government is administering vaccines incorrectly is a crass falshood (unless your a French policion maybe😁). This from the BMJ:

    The UK’s approach of leaving an interval of three months between doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine has been supported by new data, with the Oxford University researchers also saying the vaccine “may have a substantial impact on transmission.”

    The paper, a preprint currently under review at the Lancet, is an analysis of additional data from trials involving 17 177 participants in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa.1 It includes the results of a further month of data collection with 332 cases of symptomatic covid-19—an additional 201 cases than were previously reported.2

    A single standard dose of vaccine provided 76% protection overall against symptomatic covid-19 in the first 90 days after vaccination with protection not falling in this time frame. It is not clear, however, how long protection might last with a single dose as there were too few cases after 90 days to make any meaningful judgment.

    The analyses suggest that it is the dosing interval and not the dosing level which has the greatest impact on the efficacy of the vaccine. This is in line with previous research supporting greater efficacy with longer intervals with other vaccines such as influenza and Ebola.

    The study found vaccine efficacy reached 82.4% after a second dose in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more (95% confidence interval 62.7% to 91.7%). If the two doses were given less than six weeks apart the efficacy was only 54.9% (CI 32.7% to 69.7%).

    https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n326#:~:text=The%20study%20found%20vaccine%20efficacy,CI%2032.7%25%20to%2069.7%25).

  25. Author

    As I’ve just posted, they are doing it correctly. We have Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines. There is general info from the Spanish Government about the various vaccines HERE.

  26. Keep positive as Janet says!
    A concern in the UK and I do not know if the question has arisen in the island is the 12 week delay in those receiving the Pfizer vaccine due to the UK government wanting to get the first jab into as many as possible
    There is significant reliable scientific evidence that the second Pfizer vaccination should not be given more than 7 weeks after the first
    Those of us with a background in genetics understand
    this and hope the 12 week gap will not be another error alongside late lockdowns and too early lifting of restrictions
    My apologies for raising this if residents are not getting the Pfizer jab and if so your Government doing it correctly

  27. Author

    It will take a very long time, that has always been clear. The problem isn’t the speed of the rollout but the impatience of people who want to “get back to normal” and think that’s even a possible thing!

  28. I would love to stay positive, however, it is near impossible. I have private health insurance and have never had anything to do with the Spanish government’s healthcare system. When I registered for the purpose of being vaccinated all they had to say was “we’ll call you when it is your turn”. They were not even interested in taking note of preexisting conditions. If it is correct that Tenerife has most people per capita working on the vaccination it makes the situation even worse.

  29. I am saddened to see negativity about the rollout of the vaccine. It WILL happen and we just need to be patient. Logistically, this is one of the most complicated and difficult undertaking governments have faced. t was clear that it would take some time for the vaccination schedule to “bed in” and it has not been helped by the supply problems in the first few weeks. It is hardly fair to suggest this rate of vaccination will continue. Obviously, it will speed up, (and then maybe even slow down again, dependent on supplies). As of yesterday, 4.86% of people had received their first dose. as a matter of fact, and the Canaries has the most people (per capita) working on giving the vaccine in the whole of Spain. The first phase was difficult as it required the visiting of many nursing homes, numerous hospitals, and people in their own homes. etc. There will be a natural speed up also once the mainstream population gets their turn and GPs start calling them in for it.

  30. To immunize one per cent of the population of Tenerife, against covid, took six weeks. With this rate of progress, it will take more than 10 years to cover the entire population. Clearly, a new approach is urgently called for.

  31. So pleased to see the vaccination program is rolling out on the island although Janet’s observation about some ignoring Covid safety during Carnaval is going to have a negative affect as all will observe
    Janet also commented rightly about the responsibility to police the law breakers . The UK failed miserably in doing this last year but since December severe fines and establishments being closed down has helped reduce cases
    Enforcement has been by local police- difficult for you- and enforcement officers of the local Councils
    Most Council and Police websites allow the reporting of rule breakers
    If we were residents as we would be by now had Covid not struck we would be at a total loss as to what to suggest to deal with the businesses and persons breaking the rules and putting us at risk and we sympathise with those of you who take Covid seriously

  32. Author

    no, sorry, but I recommend that you ask at your local surgery because your age group should be being processed now.

  33. I am 82 years old & fully legal here have you any idea when I am likely to get the first COVID injection thank you Douglas

  34. Author

    Yes, it’s above in the post I’ve moved your question to. Especially see the 30 December 2020 and 15 January 2021 updates.

  35. My comment is if you have residency in Tenerife but are unable to get a booking to get a social security number and therefore are unable to register at a doctors.
    The chances of getting a Covid vaccine then become impossible.
    Do you know if there is an answer

  36. Author

    Please read the very post you comment on, update 22nd January.

  37. Janet – what comprises priority group 2 please in regards to the covid vaccine, please? Thank you.
    Talking to friends in Uk who have all had vaccine and younger than my age group – almost 78yrs I just wonder what the criteria is here? I spoke with my GP two weeks ago but she was unable to give indication of when vaccination would take place, altho I do have compromised health . But taking all into account I am prepared to wait.
    Thank you 6th January Penelope

  38. Author

    Roy have a look at the post above. I’ve moved your comment to it and all the info presently available is there.

  39. When will vaccine be available
    I am 74 have heart problem & high blood sugar . I am resident & registered with Spanish health system

  40. Love that Jon. Haha. Really made me LOL.

  41. Excellent news on the arrival of the vaccine on 27122020….. giving time for all those things alleged to be contained in it to settle in.
    The Bill Gates ‘Buy Microsoft’ chip, the government ‘We can track you’ chip, the ‘Vote for Boris for eternity’ drug, the ‘We’re all going to grow extra hands and feet to enable us to work more efficiently’ DNA changer, the ‘Donald Trump is a hero who must be worshipped’ chemical and the ‘Yes, aliens ARE among us and must be ignored’ messenger RNA. ALL IN ONE LITTLE NEEDLE!
    Scary stuff eh? Can’t wait to get mine. I’m gonna ask if they can add a “Stop Banging My Head On Low Canarian Lintels” patch to mine.

  42. Can’t wait to get that vaccine in my arm. Terrific news.

  43. A good number for a devil’s advocate!

  44. Are you aware of the significance of the number 666 and its association? If you are not aware, after some research, you may wish to reconsider your pseudonym 😂

  45. Yes there lots of snowbirds that come to Tenerife for the winter!

  46. May I point out that Snowbird666 is not connected in any way with the original Snowbird 😂😂

  47. Author

    And just to throw into the mix that Canarian President Ángel Torres said yesterday in an interview that he doesn’t expect things to be back to normal here until this time next year, at earliest. I’m afraid that when he said that I had an automatic reaction and reversion to Only Fools and Horses, and found myself hearing Delboy saying “this time next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires” …

  48. Another issue which still is to be resolved is whether the vaccine would prevent those who have been immunised from passing on the virus to those who haven’t been vaccinated. The experts still are unsure about that. The vulnerable would be even more vulnerable should those who have been vaccinated become devil may care because they themselves are protected. Vaccination would have to be extensive throughout the population to get anywhere near the elusive herd immunity. That will take some considerable time and so the argument is clear that the most vulnerable have to be protected first. Also that order is favoured by the subject experts who presumably have good reason for setting the priorities as they have done.

  49. The vulnerable sector is a lot smaller than the general population, so you can reduce the hospitalisation and death rates quicker by vaccinating the vulnerable first.

  50. Re the point above, I get it entirely and it’s not an unreasonable approach at all. Where it falls down in my view is that there will be a significant proportion (maybe even a majority) of the young, fit and healthy population, that won’t bother having the vaccine.

    You therefore don’t get the protection of the more vulnerable that the approach is aiming to achieve

  51. The point may be being missed here…. I’m not advocating “Failing to protect the vulnerable”, in fact I’m questioning the most effective method and quickest way of protecting both them and the entire population.
    Let me put it in a different context. If, heaven forfend, the island is threatened by a massive fire, do you send all your resources to protect the towns or do you go after the main fire to protect the entire island?
    This virus is very similar to that fire. It is unpredictable, shifts frequently and is fanned by the winds of a certain portion of the populace. Therefore, surely it is better to remove that which is fanning the flames by inoculating that portion of the populace that is the wind at the heart of the fire?
    (Please bear in mind, both my wife and I are in that portion of the populace who would be considered “At Risk”, purely due to our age…. but we both feel this path would be effectively quicker in protecting, both us and others like us, than having the younger folks risk mutating the virus and having to start again.)

  52. Author

    My personal view is that the quality of a society can to a large extent be measured by how they treat the vulnerable. A civilised society will ensure that those who are unable to look after themselves will be protected by those who have the power to protect them. What is the point of talking about “society” if everyone just looks after their own selfish interests? I would be ashamed to live like that, there would be no point.

  53. I don’t see any reason not to protect the most vulnerable in society as a priority. Aren’t they as important as the minglers? Just my personal view.

  54. Personal view….. The residents/staff of care homes and the “elderly” are not the gedders & spreaders…?
    Young people like us between 16 & 72 (!!) are the problem. We are the ones who want to get out and mingle… Mingling and Minglers are the ones to be stopped from getting it and passing it on.
    Cut the problem off at the roots…… Oooooh that sounds painful!!

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