File photograph. / SUR

Minister of Health calls on regions to 'continue vaccinating non-stop' before Christmas holidays

On Tuesday the Ministry's new national 'Covid traffic light' system was given the green light - but without any associated restrictive measures being agreed

ALFONSO TORICES

Spain’s Minister of Health has made it clear whatthe Government’s main strategy is to fight the coronavirus pandemic and called on the regions to "continue vaccinating non-stop."

Carolina Darias said that the path to success is not to lower our guard, continue with Covid-19 preventive measures (including face masks, ventilation, social distancing and avoiding crowds) and “vaccinate, vaccinate and vaccinate before we get into the Christmas holidays."

On Tuesday (23 November) a Public Health Commission meeting, involving the national Ministry of Health officials and representatives from the regions, agreed to start to administer, as quickly as possible, the third dose of an anti-Covid-19 vaccine to the population group in Spain aged from 60 to 69, and to the professionals who work in the health and social care centres, including outpatient clinics, day centres, hospitals and residences.

Greater risk

The plan is to give a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to the entire population, but, as happened with the first two jabs, prioritising the groups that are considered to be at greater risk from the pandemic.

Residents of nursing homes, the over-70s, people with weakened immune systems and those initially jabbed with the Janssen single-dose vaccine are already being given an additional vaccine dose as the effectiveness following the original vaccination wanes after three to six months, according to scientific studies.

90 million vaccines

Darias hinted that once this new third-dose age group is completed, others will follow, since the Government has already contracted 90 million vaccines, half of which they want to use before summer. Another of the groups that could be jabbed soon are children from 5 to 11 years old, whose vaccination could be authorised by the European Medicines Agency this week.

'Covid traffic light'

The Public Health Commission meeting also approved the new 'Covid traffic light' system, that defines the risk levels of the pandemic and the indicators that make the new normal go to low, medium, high or extreme risk, but there was no consensus and the restrictive measures to be taken at each step was left out of the agreement. The original draft document contemplated the closure of the interior spaces of bars and restaurants at 11pm (and 1am in nightclubs) if a coronavirus incidence rate of more than 100 was reached, combined with a high level of pressure on the health care system.