Protocol files for COVID-19 vaccinations at the Research Centers of America in Florida on August 13. Those files are unrelated to the ones being discussed in Spain. Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
Spain started vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 on Sunday.
The country’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said that inoculation was voluntary but that authorities would keep a list of everyone who refused and share it with the European Union.
Illa told the TV channel La Sexta that the list would not be made public and “will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.”
Spain has experienced a brutal second surge in coronavirus cases. It is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe and as of Sunday had recorded more than 50,000 deaths from the virus.
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Spain is setting up a register of people who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine and plans to share the list with other European Union countries, the Spanish health minister announced.
Spain took delivery of its first doses Sunday, with plans to vaccinate 2.3 million people over the next 12 weeks, El País reported. Inoculations started Sunday, with the first dose going to a 96-year-old, the paper said.
Health Minister Salvador Illa told the broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday that receiving the vaccine would be a voluntary process in which citizens are called up for their doses, free of charge, by the country’s national health system.
But he encouraged people to get it, saying: “The way to defeat the virus is by vaccinating all of us.”
He said other European partners would be given access to the register of those who turn it down, “as is done with other treatments,” he said.
But he added: “It is not a document to be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.” It is not clear exactly what personal data is to be recorded and shared.
The European Commission proposed a wide set of measures for cooperation and data-sharing around vaccinations in the bloc in April 2018.
People in Barcelona, Spain, on March 15. David Ramos/Getty Images
Spain is one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus. It has recorded almost 1.9 million cases, and, as of Monday, more than 50,000 people in the country with the virus had died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.
As with many other European countries, it saw a resurgence of cases in the fall.
That wave appears to be in decline, but Illa said on Sunday that people should not “let their guard down.”
Spanish people remain under curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., with many areas keeping people at home except for work, care duties, or accessing medicine, according to the BBC. This regimen is expected to stay in place until May, the broadcaster reported.
Spain is vaccinating citizens with the two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, according to El País.
Under the country’s National Health System, people will be notified when they should go to receive their first and second doses, Illa told La Sexta.
Other vaccines will also be used as they get approval from the European Medicines Agency, according to El País.
Europe is facing new concerns over a coronavirus variant spreading rapidly in the UK. The variant, which is feared (but not confirmed) to be more infectious, but not more lethal, has been reported in EU nations including Spain, France, and Germany.
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