Vaccination boost in Catalonia with half a million doses per week

Health encourages the population between 60 and 79 to get vaccinated with the first dose before the end of the state of alarm

3 min
Image of the mass vaccination at the Barcelona Fair for people between 70 and 79 years old.

BarcelonaCrucial week for the vaccination campaign. At the end of last week almost 600,000 doses arrived in Catalonia and, after the new delivery of 272.610 Pfizer vaccines this Monday, during the next days the Department of Health hopes to administer the over 500.000 doses available. According to forecasts, 80% of the population over 60 will have received at least the first dose when May 9 arrives, which marks the end of the state of alarm and a relaxation of the current restrictions is expected. To achieve this milestone, the Department encourages people aged between 60 and 79 to make an appointment on the enabled website where they can pick the vaccination point of their choice.

"The rate of arrival of new vaccines means rapid progress in the vaccination process, but it is still not enough," the Department admits. In fact, the lack of vaccines is not the problem: there are currently about 531,210 doses available to be administered throughout the week: 258,600 doses of AstraZeneca which arrived on Friday - and started being administered on Monday - and 272,610 Pfizer vaccines delivered on Monday.

In addition, the Health Department also expects to receive 20,700 doses of the single-dose Janssen in the next few days, so it is expected that in a single week 550,000 doses will arrive and will be administered. This is a sharp increase from last week, when 365,950 were administered.

The Health Department has confirmed to ARA that vaccination points outside primary care, such as sports centres, will have 101,200 doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca between 4 and 10 May: some 17,200 Pfizer vaccines will be used to immunise people aged between 70 and 79 and the remaining 84,000 AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered to people aged between 60 and 69, the only group that can receive this vaccine.

Despite the fact that in the last three days vaccination teams have administered a total of 124,778 vaccines, most of them (80,250) first doses, the half million vaccines have to be administered quickly, before another large batch arrives, which would mean large amounts would be in storage. If last week's delivery is repeated, and knowing that Pfizer has already delivered a big batch this Monday, the large delivery would come from AstraZeneca and would arrive on Friday. "There are vaccines available for people born between 1942 and 1961 that should be exhausted before the new shipment arrives," the Health Department insists in a statement.

The proof of this significant advance in the vaccination strategy are the queues formed this weekend at the Fira de Barcelona, where 6,000 doses of Pfizer were inoculated to citizens aged between 70 and 79. This is the largest space that the Health Department has reserved for large-scale vaccinations. The intention of the Government is to open the enclosure every day from next week onwards to intensify inoculations if the massive arrival of vials is consolidated.

1.9 million vaccinated

The Government's aim so far has been to win time through vaccination, i.e. take advantage of stable indicators to advance immunisations without the epidemiological context endangering the effectiveness of the strategy. After weeks of uncertainty due to the late and meagre arrival of vials, it seems that the pace of injections is finally picking up.

According to vaccination data updated on Monday by the Department of Health, 28.7% of the Catalan population over 16 has been vaccinated with one dose, that is about 1,906,756 people. At the moment, however, only about 823,133 have received the full treatment, i.e. either the Janssen vaccine or the two Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca doses. Also included in this percentage are those under 66 who have suffered covid and who only received a single dose, as established by the vaccination protocol.

The half million doses that can be administered this week should allow completing vaccination of the over-80s - 84.3% have already received two doses - and advance in the coverage of the over-60s with at least one injection. About 66.6% of people aged between 70 and 79 have received a first dose and 18% have received both doses.

Moreover, 55.4% of people aged between 66 and 69 have been vaccinated with the first dose and 4.3% have received the full vaccination schedule while 60% of the population aged between 60 and 65 have been partially immunised and 6% have received both doses.

According to the Department, maintaining this rate of vaccination can reduce the risk of dying from covid by 50% to 75% and chances of ending up in hospital by 30% to 50%. As for intensive care units (ICU), so far the vaccination of the over-60s prevents between 17% and 37% of admissions to critical care areas, but in order to reduce the number of occupied beds citizens aged between 50 and 59 will have to be immunised. This immunisation, according to Minister of Health Alba Vergés will "surely" begin mid-May, about two weeks from now