How organizational problems in Spain are impeding the administration of Covid-19 vaccine
Organizational problems are hampering Spain’s Covid-19 vaccination drive. While the country at one point was administering nearly all of the vaccines that were delivered, this is no longer the case. As more doses have arrived and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been integrated into the program, the difference between the number of jabs received and those administered has grown. Healthcare representatives say this is largely due to organizational problems. While the first phase of the vaccination drive targeted staff and residents in care homes, as well as frontline health workers, who are easy to locate and bring together, the next stage has been extended to essential workers under the age of 55 and people 80 years and over, which is presenting logistical challenges.
Although the regions – which are responsible for handling the response to the pandemic and the Covid vaccination drive – have launched this next phase at different speeds, the overall trend is clear. On February 2, Spain had administered 94% of all Covid doses it had received. This figure fell to 90% on February 9 and to 87% on February 23. Last week, it dropped again to 75%. The figures from last week are the most recent as Spain has not yet had time to administer the last shipment of Covid vaccines: 886,880 new doses, the largest delivery to date. It won’t be known until next Tuesday whether Spain’s vaccination drive is slowing down or picking up after starting the inoculation of the next priority groups.
The difference between the number of doses delivered and those administered is greatest with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved after the candidates from Pfizer and Moderna. The Spanish Health Ministry decided to only use the AstraZeneca vaccine on people between the ages of 18 and 55, due to the lack of clinical evidence of its effectiveness in older demographics. This meant it needed to push forward a new priority group: essential workers, such as teachers, law-enforcement officers and firefighters, under the age of 55. On February 23 (the last day with comparable data), Spain had administered 95.5% of the doses from Pfizer, 70.8% from Moderna and just 33.7% from AstraZeneca.
According to María José García, the spokesperson of the nursing union Satse, with “the easiest part” of the vaccination drive now over, more challenges are starting to appear. “[Vaccinating] the residents [of care homes], who all live in the same place, and healthcare workers has been faster because they are easy to locate in the very centers where they are vaccinated. Now, with adults who need daily assistance but are not in care homes, and essential workers, it is more complicated. In the first case, for logistical reasons: you have to go to their homes, and in the second, for the sheer volume,” she explains..
But the situation varies greatly in each of Spain’s 17 regions. Although there is a national strategy, some regional governments have decided to overlap different priority groups more than others, or change the order completely. In Madrid, for example, healthcare workers received the jab before many care home residents. And there are also differences with respect to the vaccination of essential workers. According to data from Satse, regions such as Castilla y León and Aragón have not begun to inoculate this priority group, while the Canary Islands have started the campaign with police officers, and Galicia with teachers. Other regions are vaccinating different groups of essential workers at the same time.
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