More than one million people in Spain have already received a booster shot of a Covid-19 vaccine. That’s according to the Spanish Health Ministry, which released its latest figures for the pandemic on Tuesday. Spanish healthcare systems are currently administering a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine to the over-70 population, a group that numbers nearly seven million people.
The measure was approved by the Public Health Commission – made up of the Health Ministry and representatives from the country’s regions – on October 5, and was also given the green light by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Andalusia, Aragón and Murcia have begun administering booster shots to the over-70 population, and the rest of Spain’s regions – which are in charge of their healthcare systems, immunization drive and coronavirus restrictions – are expected to do so in the coming days, coinciding with the start of the flu vaccination campaign. The regions will also start to offer booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – which use mRNA technology – to recipients of the single-shot Janssen vaccine on November 15, after studies found that the latter was less effective than the other two.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry also updated its Covid-19 vaccination strategy. The new guidelines state that Pfizer and Moderna can be administered as booster shots irrespective of which medication the person first received. In other words, those who received two doses of Pfizer can receive a booster shot of Moderna, and vice versa. “Any mRNA vaccine can be administered as the booster shot, independently of the vaccine used in the first vaccination,” the document states.
The update also indicates that, in line with EMA guidelines, the dosage for the booster shot of Moderna will be reduced by half to 0.25ml. In the case of Pfizer, the dosage is set at 0.3ml, which is the same amount used for the first two inoculations.
Any mRNA vaccine can be administered as the booster shot, independently of the vaccine used in the first vaccinationVaccination guidelines
To be precise, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday that 1,074,853 people in Spain had already received a booster shot. Meanwhile, 78.6% of the entire population of Spain is fully vaccinated, while 80.2% has had at least one shot. This equates to 37.3 million and 38 million people, respectively.
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), said on Tuesday that the incidence rate of the coronavirus had fallen thanks to the success of the Covid-19 vaccination drive. According to Simón, only the arrival “of a new variant that creates high transmission” could trigger a serious situation.
Speaking at an event organized by the workers union UGT in Aragón, the health expert added that he does not believe a booster shot is “generally” needed, and expressed doubts about vaccinating children against Covid-19 as “the disease has little effect on them.”
Meanwhile, the coronavirus incidence rate in Spain is holding steady. According to the figures released on Tuesday evening, the 14-day number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 49.03, down 0.83 points from Friday. The Health Ministry reported 5,820 new coronavirus cases and added 55 Covid-19 deaths to the official toll. These figures include data from Friday to Monday, given that no information is released on the weekend and Monday was a public holiday. In total, 5,016,968 infections have been detected since the beginning of the pandemic, while the official death toll stands at 87,423.
With respect to pressure on the healthcare system, there are currently 1,740 Covid-19 patients in Spanish hospitals, 100 more than Friday. The occupancy rate in intensive care units, however, has fallen slightly to 4.44%.
In Madrid, which currently has had the most relaxed coronavirus restrictions in Spain, cases have been rising. The region is now in a medium-risk situation, meaning the incidence rate is above 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero, however, insisted on Tuesday that the epidemiological situation was “stable.”