Araceli Hidalgo, 96, the first person in Spain to receive the Covid-19 vaccine

“Let’s see if we can get rid of this virus,” said the nonagenarian, who is a resident in Los Olmos senior home in Guadalajara

Araceli Hidalgo, 96, receives the Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday.
Araceli Hidalgo, 96, receives the Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday.PEPE ZAMORA (AFP)

Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, aged 96, and the oldest resident in Los Olmos senior home in Guadalajara, on Sunday became the first person in Spain to receive a vaccine against Covid-19. “Let’s see if we can get rid of this virus,” she said minutes after receiving the injection. Araceli and Mónica Tapias, 48, an employee at the residence, who was immunized at the same time, were the first participants in the biggest vaccination campaign Spain has ever seen, which got going at 9am today. Of the 70 seniors who live at the home, the only fully public one in the city in the Castilla-La Mancha region, 60 will receive their first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccination today.

Using a walker, Araceli arrived on Sunday morning to the area in the residence that has been prepared for the administration of the coronavirus vaccines. While she waited for the health worker to prepare the injection, she crossed herself. “It’s a small prick that you won’t even feel,” she was told. “Let me know if you feel any itching or stinging. That’s it. You’ve been the first in Spain.” “Thank God,” replied the nonagenarian, who was born in Guadix, Granada, and has been living in Los Olmos since 2013.

After the vaccine had been administered, she remained seated in a chair a few meters away just to see if there were any adverse effects. Questioned by a reporter from state broadcaster TVE, Araceli explained that she felt “very relaxed.” Araceli has a son and a daughter, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

After Araceli, it was the turn of Mónica Tapias, a nursing assistant who has been working at the residence for the last 10 years. As she sat down to receive the injection she admitted that she was nervous. “You can feel some slight discomfort as it goes in,” she explained afterward. “It makes me proud,” she added, when it was pointed out that she was the first healthcare professional in Spain to receive the vaccine “What we want is for the highest number of people possible to be vaccinated, because so many have died,” she said. “It’s a shame that it didn’t get here in time for them. The important thing is for this to stop now. I encourage the population to get vaccinated,” she added.

The pair remained seated in the room for 20 minutes after their injections, after which they left to applause from many of the 120 staff at the center.

Thirty minutes beforehand, 450 doses of the vaccine had left a logistics center belonging to the US pharmaceutical manufacturer in an industrial park located eight minutes’ drive from the senior home. After the first doses that will be symbolically administered today in all of the country’s regions, each of the regional healthcare departments will receive their allocation as designated by the central government, a number that is proportional to the number of citizens in the first priority group in the vaccination plan: residents in senior homes, their carers, healthcare workers and all adults with need for daily assistance even if they are not in residential care. In total, the Spanish government is hoping to vaccinate nearly 2.3 million people before the spring.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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