Ministry authorises the Janssen vaccine for new age group in Spain, despite delivery delays

The single-dose Janssen vaccine.
The single-dose Janssen vaccine. / SUR
  • The department expected to receive 5.5 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson formula between April and June but, until now, has received only 576,000

The Public Health Commission in Spain agreed on Tuesday, 1 June, to immediately authorise the use of Janssen single-dose vaccine for people between 40 and 49 years old (those born between 1972 and 1981), and their vaccination will start in the next few days once the decision is ratified by the Interterritorial Council meeting between the Ministry of Health and the regions this Wednesday.

The use of the Johnson & Johnson formula was previously vetoed for the under-50s but it threatened to slow down the national vaccination campaign.

The 40 to 49 year old 'baby boom' generation is the largest decade age group in Spain with some 7.8 million people, more than 16 per cent of the total population of the country.

Health experts insist that lowering the Janssen vaccine’s age bar could significantly speed up the vaccination process of a group expected to have great mobility this summer, because it is a single-dose.

Initially the Johnson & Johnson formula was reserved exclusively for the age group between 70 and 79 years after six cases of rare blood clots were detected in the United States among women between 18 and 48 years. After the immunisation of group aged 70 to 79 was almost completed, on 11 May it was authorised for the age range of 59 to 50 years. The vaccine is also currently being used to immunise the population group that is difficult to locate, including the homeless, immigrants, seasonal workers, as well as residents abroad, international aid workers and also seafarers.

The successful vaccination of the expanded target population will depend on the laboratory improving its irregular supply to date. The Ministry of Health expected to receive 5.5 million doses of the vaccine between April and June but, until now, Spain has received only 576,000.

Johnson & Johnson maintains its promise to deliver 3.9 million doses this June, a figure and a schedule that the department, however, doubts will be fulfilled. Nor does the Ministry of Health believe that the company will be able to comply with the full contract of 17.5 million doses before 30 September on time.