Spain on Monday received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines for children. The 1.3 million doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech will be shipped to the regions, which are in charge of their own vaccination campaigns, said the Health Ministry.
The shots will be administered from December 15, when health authorities are expected to first call in kids from at-risk groups and those ages 10 and 11. But the logistics will vary depending on the region, with some like Catalonia choosing to immunize all children between the ages of five and 11 at the same time.
The Spanish government is hoping to extend vaccine coverage among the country’s 3.3 million children following a successful campaign that has already immunized nearly 90% of the population age 12 and over.
The move comes as coronavirus transmission continues to rise in several Spanish regions. In Catalonia, nearly 2,700 new cases are being diagnosed each day and there are 242 patients in intensive care, with six fatalities a day from Covid-19.
The sixth wave of the coronavirus is also being intensely felt in the Basque Country and Navarre, where the case rate is notably higher than the national average. Recent statistics show a 14-day incidence rate of over 629 cases per 100,000 people in Navarre and around 800 in the Basque Country, compared with the national average of 323.
Javier del Águila, an epidemiologist at Móstoles Hospital, said that “nobody has hit on the reasons” for this significant difference in diagnosed cases, although bad weather, social gatherings and extensive testing have been mentioned as factors for the higher numbers in those two northern regions.
Spain as a whole remains in the high-risk scenario, according to the government’s revised traffic-light system that takes into account the impact of vaccination on hospitalizations. Broken down by regions, there are six in the high-risk category: Catalonia, Aragón, Basque Country, La Rioja, Navarre and Castilla y León, representing a combined population of 14.5 million.
The Spanish Health Ministry on Friday reported 17,012 new diagnosed cases and 60 fatalities, for a total of 5,290,190 infections and 88,381 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
More cases of the omicron variant continue to be reported throughout the country. In the northwestern region of Galicia, government authorities on Monday confirmed the third detected case in the region. In Andalusia, the region also confirmed on Monday its fourth case of omicron in a youngster who traveled from Madrid to Seville, reports Eva Saiz. According to the regional health chief, Jesús Aguirre, the patient has not required hospitalization. The other three cases detected last week – two in Cádiz province and one in Almería province – have also not needed to be admitted to hospital.
And in the Balearic Islands, the regional cabinet is on Monday expected to greenlight a new requirement for all health personnel at hospitals and local health centers to present the Covid pass, which works as proof of immunization, recovery or negative test results. The move will then have to be approved by the regional High Court, which recently ruled in favor of requiring the Covid pass at nightlife venues and restaurants with room for over 50 diners.