Vaccine shortage disrupts Spanish regions as Madrid suspends first dose campaign

James Badcock
·2-min read
A young Spanish man receiving a vaccine - Susana Vera/Reuters
A young Spanish man receiving a vaccine - Susana Vera/Reuters

Madrid’s regional government has announced that it is halting all planned first doses of the Covid vaccine for two weeks, blaming a lack of supply of jabs from Spain’s national administration for its decision.

Ignacio Aguado, Madrid’s deputy president, said that the region’s health authority had received fewer vaccines than initially promised by the Spanish government, and claimed that the decision to reserve some of the first supplies from the end of December and early January was now vindicated.

“We will focus on delivering the second doses, which are so necessary,” Mr Aguado said.

Spain’s health ministry has marked out the strategy for regions to implement, with elderly care home residents and health workers the first risk groups to be vaccinated, and all other over-80s next on the list.

Regions are assigned a proportion of the vaccines imported by Spain according to the needs of their population, but the Spanish government recalculated those numbers partly based on the regions’ different speed of use when Pfizer’s delivery batch was less than expected last week.

Madrid complained that it received only half of the scheduled 48,750 doses on January 18, forcing it to re-examine its strategy.

Madrid has used just under 170,000 doses, but only 4,000 have been second shots.

Faced with a similar problem, the region of Catalonia has taken a different approach and opted to delay the second dose for around 10,000 people beyond the three-week time lag recommended by Pfizer.

Catalonia’s health department noted that the European Medicines Agency based its approval of the Pfizer vaccine on the results of trials in which the time between doses ranged between 19 and 42 days.

Nationwide, just under 1.3 million doses have been administered in Spain in a month.

Given that the population stands at 47 million, the objective of reaching 70 per cent vaccination by the end of the summer remains a tall order.