Spain today has taken a historic step with the first injections of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was at ‘Los Olmos’, a public nursing home for the elderly in Guadalajara, where Araceli, the oldest user at 96 years of age, and Mónica Tapias, a nursing assistant, received a dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech serum. They have been the protagonists of a vaccination campaign whose initial phase aims to cover 2.3 million people in the next 12 weeks.
As promised by Health and the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, today was a discreet act with no greater media presence than the live signal offered by TVE. Araceli and Mónica’s initial nervousness has disappeared five minutes after having inoculated the serum, at which time both have been “proud” and have wanted to make an appeal. “I encourage the population to get vaccinated because it is very important, it is the only way to overcome this,” said the nursing assistant, who reminded those who “have not arrived on time.” “We have to stop the virus,” shared Araceli, “and that’s why I’ve done it.” The two of you should inject the second dose of the vaccine within three weeks.RELATED
Araceli Hidalgo, born in 1924, has a daughter and a son, four grandchildren and a great-grandson and is a native of Guadix, Granada, but has been registered in Guadalajara for 25 years. Mónica, a native of Guadalajara, is a nursing assistant and has worked in this residence for ten years. ‘Los Olmos’ is one of the few public centers for the elderly in the country and has 70 elderly inmates, 120 employees and currently no positive cases. Even so, 13 people died here in the first wave according to official data from April 30: two with positive CRP and another 11 with compatible symptoms. The health crisis has been especially bloody with the more than 5,000 nursing homes in our country, where 20,268 people lost their lives.
“I am very proud. We represent all of Spain and all of Castilla-La Mancha,” said Marina Vadillo, the director of ‘Los Olmos’. “It has been very hard, but we have been learning every day and marking all the protocols,” he acknowledged in memory of the 13 deceased at his center. Now, “residents and professionals are very excited because we see the beginning of the end,” he said, referring to not having any positive case of COVID-19 since June. “We have done the best we can and know, but this is not over yet,” he warned.
The first vaccine has arrived in our country in record time after nine months that, however, have seemed too long, especially in places as vulnerable as residences, where there are still many positive cases today. Shielding the centers for the elderly has become a priority in the first phase of the vaccination campaign, which will be divided into four groups: geriatric (including residents, health workers and workers), “first line” health workers, other health workers and large dependents . In total, approximately 2.3 million people who will be vaccinated in the next three months. The next horizon located by Health is May, in which it is expected that 10 million people will already be vaccinated in Spain.
The election of the Castilian-Manchega province has a symbolic and a logistical reason. The first responds to the fact that it is a public center of public management in a country where almost 90% of nursing homes are privately managed. The second is because Pfizer has installed the delivery and distribution device in Guadalajara, from where technicians from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products have given the go-ahead to the dose trays since last 26th and then distribute them throughout Spain.
Today’s is a first symbolic distribution that will be strengthened from Monday. After Castilla-La Mancha, the next regions that have launched their vaccination protocol this Sunday are Castilla y León, Andalusia, Madrid, Extremadura and Catalunya. In addition, a team of soldiers has collected this weekend the trays that correspond to the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla to transport them to those territories by air, while the rest will arrive by road.
Starting tomorrow and until March, Spain will receive 4,591,275 doses of this vaccine from Pfizer with which it is intended to immunize 2,295,638 people. An average of 350,000 weekly doses to distribute among the communities. This ambitious plan is encompassed in the middle of the Christmas period and in a worrisome epidemiological situation, where positive cases already exceed 250 per 100,000 inhabitants and transmission continues to rise.
On the other hand, it is not a simple task. Pfizer’s serum has various technical demands due, among other things, to its conservation at very low temperatures – between -60º and -80º. For this, they have arrived in refrigerators with charred snow that contain, at most, up to five trays with 1,000 vials each, that is, with enough for 5,000 punctures. Its complicated application is also a challenge for the health workers who administer them, and this week they have requested “specific training” for it.
According to Health, the distribution will be “equitable” and based on the target population, that is, the one expected to be vaccinated in the first phase, and not the total. Thus, Madrid will receive 1,200 doses this Sunday that will be distributed in three nursing homes: Vallecas, Ciudad Lineal and Moncloa Aravaca. From Monday, this community will receive 48,750 weekly doses that will be stored in three ultra-freezers spread over two warehouses. In the capital, where the virus hit the residences hard in the first wave, there are around 700 social and health centers that host 48,000 users and 13,000 workers.
For its part, Catalonia will provide its first vaccines at 12 noon in a residence in L’Hospitalet in the presence of the Minister of Health Salvador Illa. In total, this Sunday 1,600 vaccinations are planned in nine different senior centers, one for each health area, chosen because they are public, free of COVID-19 and have a large number of users. Every Monday, an average of 60,000 doses will be received in this community.
In Andalusia, vaccination will begin in Granada, the province most affected by the coronavirus in the second wave, although it will reach the other eight throughout the day. 868,725 doses of the vaccine have been allocated for the next 12 weeks, in which 45 health centers and 37 hospitals made up of 177 teams will be vaccinated, but 73 of these will be mobile to move to residences in the first phase. In Extremadura, two residences have been chosen for today, one of which is the most affected in the first wave, where an average of 60 people will be vaccinated in each one. The board, in addition, has planned 25,000 weekly doses to be distributed among “the target population” of this first phase of vaccination.
Some 16,000 are those that the Basque Country will receive each week. In Navarra, which will begin with a residence in Pamplona this Sunday, the doses will be stored at a point with deep freezing from where they will be distributed daily, in special isothermal transport containers, to the vaccination points scheduled for each day. The Valencian Community will begin with the first symbolic remittance in seven centers for the elderly in which there have been no cases of coronavirus and from Monday 28 will receive 30,000 doses a week.
The Region of Murcia has reported that it will have 12,675 weekly doses, a quantity slightly higher than that of Aragon (12,000), which will store the vaccines in a single point, the Lozano Blesa University Clinical Hospital. There will be two ultra-freezers, from which they will depart for health centers “through three urban routes in the city of Zaragoza and 15 other routes in the rest of the territory,” as reported by the Aragonese Government.
Galicia, for its part, has arranged that a team of 200 nurses will go two by two to each senior center and that this Sunday, the first to receive it will be a residence in Santiago. It will be in the capital where there will be a single storage point, in a logistics center that will distribute the 18,000 vaccines that will arrive weekly, according to forecasts, to the rest of the community.