Ministry of Health to include under-65s in AstraZeneca vaccination campaign

Darias announces that Spain will receive 5.5 million doses of the Janssen vaccine between April and June

2 min
The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, in an archive image

BarcelonaThe AstraZeneca vaccination campaign will resume on Wednesday after it was halted over its alleged negative side-effects. In addition, it is expected raise the age limit on its use: it will no longer be limited to the under-55s, but rather to the under-65s. This decision will need to be backed by the Interterritorial Health Council, and will revert Spain's initial "prudent" approach. In fact, it may yet be used on over-65s.

"All approved vaccines are safe. We decided to stop [AstraZeneca] because we needed an additional assessment of the European Medicines Agency," explained the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias in an interview on LaSexta. Several regional governments had been seeking approval for use of the vaccine on the over-55s. However, the Spanish Ministry of Health insisted it wanted to wait for the trials being carried out in the US to be completed. this morning the company published a statement asserting that is "effective" and that no side-effects had been observed.

In fact, the Catalan administration had been defending administering the vaccine to those aged between 55 and 65 for some time now. Secretary General of the Health Department Marc Ramentol highlighted on RAC1 the importance of vaccinating Catalans aged between 55 and 65 to reduce the number of hospitalisations. To illustrate this point the Secretary of Public Health, Josep Maria Argimon, explained that a 35-year-old covid patient has a 0,2% probability of entering intensive care; for those aged between 55 and 64, the risk goes up to 3.4%.

672,750 Pfizer doses arrive today

This decision should help vaccination across Spain accelerate, as up to now Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine has given the best results. Today, 672,750 doses arrived in the different regions and a large amount of Janssen vaccines is expected soon. Darias announced 5.5 million doses between April and June.

Specifically, the Spanish government estimates that 300,000 vials will be received during the second half of April, 1.3 million in May and 3.9 million in June. As it is a single-dose vaccine, the minister said in an interview with La Sexta that 5.5 million Spaniards can be vaccinated with the vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson. "Pfizer will send us about 5 million more. Vaccination will increase significantly in April," said Darias, who has insisted that in summer it is possible to have vaccinated 70% of the population.

However, the minister recalled that the summer period ends in September and that, therefore, "there is time" to continue immunising and meet this goal. "We knew that during the first quarter the arrival of doses would be limited, but we have been administering all the vaccines that have been arriving," she said.

On the possibility of a fourth wave in the State due to an upsurge in transmission in different communities, the Minister of Health has admitted that the scenario of the Spanish government is that the curve may increase again: "We are in a plateau phase and it is everyone's responsibility to stop it, it is in our hands. It depends on us not to succumb to a fourth wave," she said. In this line, she has acknowledged that the fact infections are on the "rise" in nine communities is "already worrying".