Pressure is growing on the Spanish government to make the AstraZeneca vaccine available to people up to the age of 65 and not 55, in line with European neighbours Portugal, Germany, France, Greece and Italy who have also set the same age limit.
Spain’s National Healthcare Committee, which is made up of health experts from the central government and regional authorities, will announce on Thursday if they will lift the previous age limit on the AstraZeneca inoculation which was set in early February.
Medical associations and public health specialists argue that the vaccine has been shown to be effective and safe in all ages older than 18, including people older than 80.
Their argument is that widening the age bracket for the AstraZeneca vaccine will alleviate the pressure on hospitals, which in turn is what forces regional governments to impose restrictions on mobility and social interaction to the entire population. This, they say, cannot happen if the 60-79 age group isn’t massively vaccinated.
This age group, in which 60 percent of ICU cases are concentrated , is now in a ‘vaccination limbo’, since the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are currently being given to people over 80 years of age, and that of AstraZeneca to those under 56.
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Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias was intending to wait on the results of clinical tests being carried out on the AstraZeneca vaccine in the United States, but regional authorities in Catalonia, Madrid and Andalusia are saying the change cannot wait any longer.
According to health ministry sources, the rest of Spain’s regions prefer to “pay attention to the clinical results and scientific evidence”.
Another topic of discussion at the table will be the possibility of bringing forward the vaccine rollout in some cases for people in the higher risk groups, as well as the vaccine measures that will be taken at Spanish universities.