Vaccination drive in Spain: 71% of 80-and-overs have had at least first shot

New data reveals the large differences between the regions: while this figure is 91% in Andalusia, it is under 54% in Catalonia

Vaccination of the 80-an-over age group at Isabel Zendal hospital in Madrid.
Vaccination of the 80-an-over age group at Isabel Zendal hospital in Madrid.Jaime Villanueva (EL PAÍS)

A total of 70.8% of the 80-and-over age group in Spain have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That’s according to figures released on Wednesday by the Health Ministry, which for the first time break down the progress of the vaccination drive by age groups. The data shows that the Spanish government has not met its goal of vaccinating 80% of the 80-and-over population with at least one shot in March.

The figures also reveal the great discrepancies between Spain’s regions, which are responsible for the vaccination drive as well as for containing the coronavirus pandemic in their territories. While the southern region of Andalusia has made the greatest progress, administering at least one dose to 90.8% of people aged 80 and over, Catalonia is at the bottom of the list, with only 53.8% of this age group receiving at least one shot. At the current speed of the rollout, 80% of the 80-and-over population in Spain will be vaccinated by the end of this week.

This age group is receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine, which both require two shots for full protection. Only 40.2% of people aged 80 and over in Spain have received the two doses. Andalusia is once again at the top of the list, having fully vaccinated 58.1% of this priority group, compared to 24% in the Basque Country, which is the lowest figure of all the regions.

As a greater number of vaccines arrive, these numbers are set to rise more quickly. In April, Spain is expected to receive 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine a week. These doses alone – not counting the other vaccines available – are enough to fully vaccinate everyone in the 80-and-over age group in just two weeks. This would allow the mass vaccination of the 70-to-79 population to begin from mid-April. Some regions will start inoculating this age group earlier than others, either because they have made more progress in vaccinating the 80-and-over population or are planning to overlap the two priority groups.

The report released by the Health Ministry also shows what percentage of other age groups have been vaccinated. In the 70-to79 population, 3.9% have received at least one dose. This figure is 9.2% for the 60 to 69 age group; 11.2% for people aged between 50 and 59; 10.3% for the 25-to-49 age group and 4.7% of the 18-to-25 demographic. These age groups may have received the Covid-19 vaccine for three different reasons: for being a resident of a care center, an adult with disabilities who does not live in a care home or an essential worker.

Next priority group

Around 355,000 patients with medical conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 will be vaccinated next along with the 70-to-79 age group, according to the updated vaccination strategy presented by the Health Ministry on Tuesday. Transplant, oncology and dialysis patients are included in this group, as well as people with HIV infection and primary immune deficiency. The plan also prioritizes 10,000 people over the age of 40 with Down syndrome.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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