Spain is in the leading squad of the countries that vaccinate their population the fastest against the coronavirus, but the rate of punctures has suffered a notable slowdown in the last month. The largest campaign in the history of the country experienced its most exciting moments in the second week of July, when every day half a million administered doses were widely exceeded and 379,000 people completed their vaccination. But since then this last figure has not stopped falling: 272,000 daily guidelines completed at the end of that month, 189,000 in the first half of August and 172,000 in the last seven days. The decrease in just five weeks is 55%.
At the current rate, Spain will not reach the milestone of 70% of the vaccinated population promised by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, until September. The announcement, made on May 10, placed by the end of this week (or the end of the month, according to the looser interpretation) the date on which the country would reach a percentage that at that time was believed to be sufficient to achieve immunity from group, although the greater contagion of the delta variant had left this objective almost as symbolic. Experts believe that now it will be necessary to exceed 80% and there are many who doubt that group immunity will ever be achieved.
Currently there are 29,794,008 people (62.8% of the total population, 70.7% of the vaccinable population, that is, from 12 years of age) with the complete regimen in Spain. There are almost 3.4 million missing to reach the 33.2 million that represent 70% of the country’s inhabitants. If you look at the rate of the first doses administered since mid-July —above 1.3 million per week— and take into account the separation between the two punctures —21 days for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna—, August will close with little more than 32 million vaccinated with the complete schedule, one million people targeted.
The head of preventive medicine at Hospital Clínic (Barcelona), Antoni Trilla, explains: “Given the circumstances, it would be very good news if we have reached 70% when the school year begins. We usually say that the last kilometers are the ones that cost the most, because it is easier and faster to vaccinate those who are already motivated. We started very well, but we are experiencing a worrying slowdown in the rate of vaccination, especially among those under 50 years of age ”.
Holidays, the lower perception of risk among the groups pending immunization (the youngest) and the magnitude of the fifth wave – which will force those who have not yet done it and have been infected to wait a few months to get vaccinated – are the reasons most noted among experts and administrations to explain the slowdown.
Faced with this scenario, communities such as Catalonia and the Basque Country have decided to reduce the time that those who have passed the infection will have to wait to get vaccinated from six to two months. Murcia has reduced this period even more, to four weeks, and Galicia, Madrid, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands have confirmed to this newspaper that they are studying applying a similar measure.
For Elena Vanessa Martínez, president of the Spanish Epidemiology Society (SEE), it is surely the vacation period and the fact that people must click on the community in which they reside that explains the current stoppage. “I don’t think there is a rejection problem, which is minimal. The foreseeable thing is that when we return from vacation we will regain a good rhythm ”, he says.
This decrease has coincided with the increase in the availability of sera, which has turned the situation experienced until the beginning of summer, when more people wanted to be vaccinated than the doses by hand. If in mid-July the communities began to take specific measures to attract the laggards to the vaccination centers – people who had not come to be vaccinated despite their age -, as of August they have already launched themselves in search of any person likely to be immunized.
Punctures for over 12 years
Although with slight differences between communities, the common elements are the opening of the campaign to all those over 12 years of age (there are no approved vaccines yet for minors of that age) and the extension of measures that make punctures more flexible, such as devices without appointment prior necessary and longer hours. Elena Vanessa Martínez believes that “it is a good strategy that also facilitates access to the vaccine for people who for personal, work or other reasons cannot always access the health system under the conditions of prior appointment.”
The scientific literature has traditionally distinguished two profiles among those who are more difficult to immunize. The first is that of the anti-vaccines, with which the majority position is that it is not worth wasting time, since there are very few and it is impossible to convince them because they do not respond to rational approaches. The second is that of the reticent. Trilla explains that “they are people with doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. They want more information and it is important to offer it to them because they tend to respond well to specific explanations ”.
This expert focuses on a third profile: that of the apathetic. “We are finding out now. These are people who do not feel challenged, who are not very interested, who have other priorities … It is not so much a matter of information as of motivation. With them, it would be convenient to look for figures with charisma and descent from different population groups to involve them in the campaign ”, continues Trilla.
There is hardly any information available on which groups or population groups are achieving the lowest immunization rates. The data offered by some communities confirm that the frontal rejection of the vaccine that they are encountering continues to be very low, around 1%, and that the reasons for the current stoppage seem to be different.
“Those who are least going to get vaccinated are users between 20 and 30 years old, but we cannot call it rejection. They do not come for work reasons, travel vacations … ”, explains a spokesman for the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha. The group with which the Basque Health Service is encountering the most difficulties is those between 30 and 39 years of age, add sources from the agency. Other communities such as Galicia also focus on those under 40 years of age.
With information from Bernat Coll, Pedro Gorospe, Eva Saiz, Cristina Vázquez Y Sonia Vizoso.