File image. / R.C.

Second Covid booster jab approved for over-60s in Spain, but no decision when

The Public Health Commission has ignored the EU recommendation to immediately start administering the booster doses to the estimated 13 million people

JOSÉ ANTONIO GUERRERO Madrid

The Public Health Commission, which brings together the regions and Spain’s Ministry of Health, has half accepted the European Union's proposal to start immediately administering the second booster dose against Covid-19 to about 13 million people in the country over 60 years of age.

The body, at its meeting on Tuesday (12 July), has accepted the request to administer this extra injection to those over 60, vulnerable people and health personnel. But they do not see it as urgent enough to start doing it now, as recommended by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). These organisations called on Monday to accelerate the vaccination plans against Covid to stop the spiral of infections of the seventh wave.

“The moment to do so has yet to be defined based on the scientific evidence and the epidemiological situation,” said a statement from Spain’s Ministry of Health that included the decision adopted on Tuesday by the Public Health Commission.

Seventh wave

This idea of ​​not starting to inject the booster doses yet is in line with what was agreed in the Conference on Vaccines and also with what has been pointed out by experts. The president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, Amós García, told SUR on Monday that unless the seventh wave overwhelms the care offered to those infected in hospitals and intensive care units, you can wait until the autumn to start the process. “Early autumn is a reasonable time to vaccinate everyone over 60 years of age and immunosuppressed people with the fourth dose; and especially our 80-year-olds," Amós said.

The Public Health Commission will report, this week or next, to the Interterritorial Health Commission, where the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, and the members of the committee will make a final decision on the matter.

Hospital pressure

The decision of the Commission comes at the height of the seventh wave, with an incidence rate of 1,225 positives per 100,000 population among those over 60 years of age and with the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients standing at 9.95% and the occupation of ICUs at 5.77%.

The Public Health Commission has reminded of the importance of the population starting or completing, depending on each case, the recommended vaccination schedule for their age. While in groups over 60 years of age the complete guideline far exceeds 90%, in the case of children, almost seven months after the start of paediatric vaccination campaign, barely 45% of children between 5 and 12 years have the complete guideline.