Society 01/07/2021

Massive response from young people over 16 to get vaccinated

Health Dpt incorporates band of 16 to 29-year-olds suddenly due to explosion in contagions and arrival of 977,700 more doses

4 min
Sanitàries preparing doses of vaccines against covid -19.

Santa Coloma de GramenetThe Catalan vaccination campaign is already massive. All the population over 16 may now book a vaccine with Pfizer or Moderna - in this case, only for the overage - as the Department of Health has included people aged between 16 to 29 to the immunisation campaign. The health authorities want to reach as many young people as possible and, therefore, have not only offered appointments on the website but have also put in place mobile vaccination sites which do not require a prior appointment in areas with higher incidence or where it has been detected that there has been little success with the method of self-scheduling appointments. At these sites, vaccinations will be given in streets and squares where people gather frequently or around shopping centres. The Bank of Blood and Tissues will lend its buses and Seat will lend its mobile trucks, according to Catalan Health Minister Josep Maria Argimon.

An hour after the call was opened, Health has registered peaks of 100,000 users attempting to book a slot. Argimon has asked for "patience" in getting a slot, because this week most of the places had already been taken by other age groups. "Next week there will be more slots", he admitted. The decision comes after the explosion of infections occurring throughout the country among the younger age groups, influenced by the effect of the Delta variant, which is more contagious. It will also coincide with the smooth arrival of vaccines. In fact, this week Catalonia will receive 977,700 doses: 497,250 from Pfizer, 360,000 from AstraZeneca -the last batch to arrive from this company-, 59,100 from Moderna and 61,350 from Janssen.

The Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, recalled that minors, those aged 16 and 17, are considered "mature minors" and will not need to present a mother's or father's permission to be vaccinated. In addition, the forecast is that the range of 12 to 15 years can also be vaccinated in the coming weeks, but it has not yet been specified when because "the priority is to continue vaccinating by age". "We will see how the vaccination of people between 16 and 29 goes and the number of vaccines that are coming to us," said Cabezas. In addition, the vaccination of younger people is part of the European vaccination strategy and still "nothing has been decided".

Vaccinations by age (men blue / women orange)

Argimon has appealed to the entire population, including people who are still reluctant, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. "A person aged between 40 and 49is also at risk and could have already be vaccinated because we opened the call some time ago," he insisted. As for the population aged between 60 and 69, which generally receives doses of AstraZeneca but for whom Pfizer or Moderna doses can also be administered if required, the second doses will be administered by the Health Department eight weeks after the first, in order to finish vaccinating them early, rather than after ten weeks as in the past.

At the levels of the first wave

"The epidemiological situation is worrying, with a very high incidence in young age groups that are not yet vaccinated or where the percentage of vaccinees is very small," Argimon stressed. The curve of infections began to grow fifteen days ago and has now clearly become another wave, with over 5,000 weekly cases. However, with a clear difference from the previous ones: as advanced yesterday by ARA, Argimon has confirmed that the virus only affects the under-50s. In fact, with this incidence, without vaccines Catalonia would have to return to the lockdown of the first wave.

The majority of those infected are young, which, despite the large presence of the Delta variant, means that there is no impact on hospitals. "There have been a few cases of severe disease. Yesterday we had 129 people in ICUs but we expect that the figure will be reduced. Now there are 120," said Argimon. However, he has also warned that there are people over 40 could have got vaccinated weeks ago and have chosen no to. "The people who are admitted to ICUs are between 42 and 66 and are not vaccinated, apart from one case where they did receive one dose," he explained. He has also reported the hospitalization of a 70-year-old who received the full guideline and recalled that although the effectiveness of vaccines exceeds 90%, some people may not end up developing immunity.

Cues in the street at health centres

For the moment, Argimon has ruled out Government plans to reverse de-escalation because the key indicator is hospital pressure and, for the moment, the situation is under control. The level of care that is suffering a sudden increase in work is primary care: in the last two weeks number of positives diagnosed through antigen tests has increased tenfold - on Tuesday 2,000 cases were diagnosed in people with symptoms - and only yesterday 20,000 consultations related to covid were carried out throughout the whole country. "The queues go out into the street", Argimon stated, to prove his point.

The Minister has stressed that this increase in contagions will have a direct impact on vaccination: "92% of those who vaccinate us work in primary care and are doing double shifts. They can either diagnose or vaccinate, but they can't do everything. And the priority now is to vaccinate to return to normal. That is why he asked for "a point of responsibility and self-regulation", although he admitted that this has been called for for months: "We are facing a time when we are vaccinating a lot and now we need to vaccinate a lot because we will get many doses, but we have the number of workers we have".

For each positive that is detected, Argimon has specified that the epidemiological surveillance service finds approximately four close contacts . "The system is under a lot of stress," he admitted. Only in the case of the huge outbreaks originating in the Balearic Islands due to end-of-year trips over nine per person have been detected. In recent hours, the number of cases among infected Catalan students has increased to 587 - 238 in Mallorca, 311 in Menorca and 38 in Tenerife - and that of close contacts is already shot up to 3,690 people.