Coronavirus vaccines in Spain will be voluntary, free and first available to risk groups, according to a government vaccine plan presented by Health Minister Salvador Illa on Tuesday.
Once the national drug authority grants approval for a vaccine, vaccinations could begin immediately, probably in January, the minister said during a cabinet session.
First, retirement homes residents and staff should be immunized. In the next step, particularly vulnerable hospital nursing staff would be able to receive the vaccine, followed by other health care workers.
About 2.5 million people should be vaccinated by March next year, according to the plan, which also defines 18 groups who should receive priority in being offered the vaccine until July.
However, Illa didn’t specify these groups further.
In determining who should be vaccinated first, the government had based its decision on the risk that a person would die from COVID-19, level of exposure to the virus, the social and economic impact of a possible infection, and the risk of infecting others, he said.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Sunday that vaccinations would be administered in 13,000 health centres across the country.
Spain, with a population of 47 million, is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in Western Europe. So far it has reported about 1.6 million virus cases and 43,100 COVID-19-related deaths.
The country on Tuesday reported 537 deaths in the past 24 hours, the largest daily increase during its second wave of the pandemic.