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Spaniards repose faith in COVID-19 vaccines even as cases rise


“I have friends who have caught COVID-19 at big parties. I know a lot of people caught it,” Rosado said. “I also went out, but without a lot of people and in controlled places, and with face masks.”

Spain, like its fellow EU members, had a slow start in administering the shots compared to Britain and the United States after regulators approved the first vaccines. But once deliveries by drug manufacturers began to meet demand, the country quickly set the ground.

After having fully vaccinated 10% of its adults from January to the end of April, now about 54% of its adults, some 25 million people, have received two vaccine jab, making Spain one of the vaccination leaders in the 27-nation European Union. has become one. .

The program is built on Spain’s efficient public health care system, a well-organized vaccination plan that sticks strictly to age groups, and a population confident in the safety of childhood vaccinations and therefore skeptical about the COVID-19 jab. is largely resistant to.

“Vaccination is part of our genome,” Amos García, president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, told the Associated Press. “Our professionals have always firmly believed in the benefits of vaccines. We have always encouraged children to get vaccinated from a very young age.”

He said the general vaccination rate for children in Spain was over 95%.

Spain’s public health care system, which has suffered budget cuts over the past decade, succumbed last year under the first wave of the virus, which has claimed at least 81,000 lives in the country.

It also helped that no politician, even those on the right or the left, sowed doubts about vaccines. The only political issue regarding vaccines was when they were not arriving fast enough, and regional health officials demanded more quickly to administer them.

“It is not a question of progressives or conservatives. This is a public health question,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told MSNBC during a visit to the United States last week.

Unlike Germany or France, there is no major anti-vaccine movement in Spain. More than 90% of public health workers in Spain have been vaccinated, compared to 42% of public health workers in France.

So while France and Greece have pressured skeptics and procrastinators to get their shots by mandating vaccines for some working people, such as paramedics and nursing home workers, Spaniards have so far needed little incentive. Is.

Working its way down from the oldest, Spain achieved its first goal: to prevent the most vulnerable from dying. But Spain’s youth may also have contributed to its emphasis on vaccines as salvation as the curfew and face mask requirements were lifted, as soon as the Delta version arrived.

The result has been that despite a smooth release of the vaccine, Spain is currently one of Europe’s hot spots for new infections. According to our World in Data, Spain is now reporting more than 25,000 new cases a day, compared to 3,400 a day a month ago.

“A month ago, when we dropped most restrictions, we didn’t call it ‘Independence Day’ like in England, but basically it was a big step towards greater freedom,” said Rafael Bengoa, former director of health systems WHO in and one of Spain’s leading public health experts told the AP.

That’s one reason we have the current epidemiological situation.”

“If you want to control the epidemic in this situation, you have to have both traditional public health restrictions and vaccinations,” Bengoa explained.

In response, some regions have imposed new restrictions, such as a night curfew in the region that includes Barcelona.

Spain is counting on its vaccine program to make rapid inroads with people under the age of 40 and the desire to get vaccinated has not fallen victim to the generation gap. Spain’s official polling bureau said last week that nearly 90% of respondents under the age of 35 said they would like to be vaccinated.

Still, Bengoa thinks virus restrictions will remain in place for some time.

“We have to convince the population that it is here to stay,” he said. “We will control it. But … you have to live with a virus that’s more dangerous than the flu.”

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Hernán Munoz in Barcelona, ​​Aritz Parra in Madrid and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

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