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Vaccine champs Spain and Portugal on a mission to inoculate the hesitant few

Despite having the best vaccination rates in the world, long line-ups for getting jabbed have returned to Portugal and Spain, two neighbouring European Union states that are ratcheting up efforts to close the gap on the few inhabitants who remain unprotected against the Covid-19. Cases of the omicron variant have been reported in both countries.

People at the Wizink Center, a vast music venue converted into a ‘vaccine-drome’ in Madrid, Spain, provide a variety of excuses for not getting their injections sooner. Furthermore, many people over the age of 60 were queuing for booster shots, which authorities hope to expand to the younger groups soon.

According to a recent poll conducted by Spain’s polling institution, CIS, almost one-third of the 1.6 million adults in Spain who are currently unvaccinated plan to receive their immunizations. However, over 3 percent of those polled — the equivalent of 1 million people if extrapolated to the country’s whole population — planned to avoid it.

The poll, conducted by CIS last month before certain Spanish areas implemented mandate for COVID-19 passes, revealed that opposition was widespread across the political spectrum, but was strongest among the middle-class with higher education.

In an internal report published on Wednesday, a panel of specialists advising Spanish health officials warned against the ‘false security’ that health certificates might provide in a country where over 90 percent of individuals eligible for taking vaccine shots have already received them. Experts reminded that mask-wearing, which is required in confined settings and on Spanish streets and other social-distancing techniques are still more effective against infection.

After stating that health certificates would be required to enjoy everything from a dinner in a restaurant to a concert, authorities in northeastern Catalonia have reopened mass vaccination sites for jabs and are allowing people to get walk-in appointments.

Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas stated that ‘both first shots and second shots are increasing,’ adding that authorities had noticed an 81 percent increase in first vaccine doses given out over the previous week.

Long queues also formed in Lisbon, where the country’s largest vaccination centre opened for the first time on Wednesday, as authorities attempted to persuade the 2 percent of the population who have not yet been vaccinated and speed up the distribution of booster injections.

Individuals must now wear masks in enclosed public venues and provide proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative Covid-19 virus test result to access restaurants, theatres, gyms and hotels. Visitors and patrons, including those who have been vaccinated, are also required to take tests to enter nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports arenas.


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