File photograph.

Spain’s Ministry of Health delays fourth Covid jab for over-80s decision

The Andalucía and Asturias regions have led calls for the fourth dose be administered as soon as possible, given the increase in the cumulative incidence rate and infections among the elderly

ÁLVARO SOTO

Those over 80 years of age in Spain will not receive the fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. The national Public Health Commission, in which representatives of the Ministry of Health and the regions participate, decided on Thursday (5 May) to postpone the administration of this second reinforcement jab while the epidemiological situation is analysed and, importantly, pending the arrival of the new generation of vaccines, already adapted against Omicron and other variants, scheduled for autumn.

The head of the Strategy for Biological Health Threats and Vaccines of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Marco Cavalieri, said on Thursday that the body plans to approve the new vaccines in September.

The regions arrived at the Public Health meeting on Thursday very divided. A group led by Andalucía and Asturias have asked that the fourth dose be administered as soon as possible, given the increase in the cumulative incidence rate and in infections among the elderly, but others, such as Madrid, have argued that it is better to wait a few months. The Vaccine Report, which had drafted the text discussed in the Public Health Commission meeting, was also in favour of delaying the fourth jab.

Immunosuppressed

On 6 April, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) gave the go-ahead to administer the extra dose to those over 80 years of age. Spain’s Ministry of Health began to analyse the possibility of administering it, but has finally decided not to do so just yet.

In Spain, 350,000 immunosuppressed (people who have received transplants, are undergoing cancer treatment or are over 40 years of age with Down syndrome) have already received the fourth dose.