Covid Vaccination

Health Ministry plans to vaccinate teenagers fortnight before start of classes

Sovereigntist parties in Spanish Parliament ask for an urgent appearance of Darias for imposing measures on nightlife opening times

3 min
Young people from 12 to 16 years old will be vaccinated at high schools

MadridThe Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate teenagers aged between 12 and 17 two weeks before the start of the school year, as announced on Friday by Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias. The Spanish government's idea is to propose to the Public Health Commission that teenagers start being vaccinated at the end of summer, about fifteen days before they go back to class, to ensure the presence of students throughout the course.

The only vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for teenagers aged between 12 and 15 is the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses that have to be administered at least 21 days apart. The first dose begins to take effect after the first 14 days, so that many of the young people who are vaccinated could start school partially immunised.

In a matter of weeks it will also be known whether the Moderna vaccine, which is also being studied for children under 18 years of age, can be administered to the youngest children. The manufacturer assures that its preparation is "highly effective" and has already announced this month it will take its results to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies to apply for authorisation.

As always, it will be the Ministry of Health who, in the Interterritorial Health Council, will establish what age groups may receive the vaccines and when, while it will be regional administrations who will decided on how to carry out the campaign. In Catalonia, for example, the Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, announced some days ago that the administration's intention is to vaccinate teenagers in high schools, and the Catalan Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, believes this would be a good move.

The secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, has explained under-16s "suffering high-risk conditions" may start being vaccinated soon, as was agreed with other regions. For the moment, however, the health authorities continue to meet paediatric associations to try to define the priority groups that will receive the jab before other youths. "As for the rest of young people, we believe that we will have to follow the age criteria and, although nothing has yet been agreed, continue first vaccinating the eldest first," said the expert.

Warning from the Spanish government

On the other hand, this Friday Darias has signed the decree for restrictions on the hospitality industry, which, according to the Ministry, "are mandatory" for all autonomous communities. The protocol approved by majority at the Interterritorial Council on Wednesday, but rejected by a few autonomous governments, has caused a clash between the central government and some regions. The Generalitat claims that it is working on its own protocol for de-escalation, while Madrid and Euskadi have openly said they will not apply the Spanish government's measures.

In an interview on Cadena Ser, the Minister of Health has warned that if they do not respect the agreement, her executive "will have to make them comply". Darias has advanced that the legal services of the Ministry of Health are studying what measures the Spanish state may take.

Attack on the sovereignty of the autonomous governments

In Congress, sovereigntist forces of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia (ERC, JxCat, PDECat, CUP, EH Bildu and BNG) have jointly requested the "urgent" appearance of the Minister of Health "to give explanations" about the measures. The political groups that have signed the petition consider that in the inter-territorial meeting on Wednesday decisions on restrictive measures against the pandemic "were imposed unilaterally and without being agreed".

They also denounce that the warnings that the minister has launched are an "unacceptable encroachment and an attack on the sovereignty of autonomous governments".

As for vaccination, it is progressing at good pace. The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, has announced that the threshold of 10 million people vaccinated across the State has been reached. "We are approaching the goal of 70% of the population immunised before the end of the summer," Sánchez said in a tweet.