Pfizer World HQ, Manhattan. Spain gets more than 20 million
COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Source: La Moncloa, Gobierno de España

Residents and healthcare workers in nursing homes for the elderly, and people with disabilities will be the first to be vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, effective and its administration will be voluntary and free of charge. All the COVID-19 vaccines will have the same levels of safety as any of the other vaccines habitually used to prevent other diseases.

The Minister for Health, Salvador Illa, presented the “COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy in Spain” to the Council of Ministers, a document that has been drawn up pursuant to the agreement adopted on 9 September by the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System.

Health Minister Salvador Illa presenting the “COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy in Spain” on 25 November 2020 at the Council of Ministers, Moncloa Palace, Madrid

Salvador Illa said that the aims of the plan are to reduce to the maximum the number of people falling ill and being hospitalized or dying, and to guarantee that vaccinations can start upon the receipt of the first doses of approved vaccines.

The document establishes vaccination priority based on scientific, ethical, legal and economic criteria. It establishes the logistics for the distribution and administration of the vaccines, sets out the priority lines for the monitoring and evaluation of the vaccination through a specific register for COVID-19, and contains a communication strategy aimed at healthcare workers as well as the rest of the population.

Stages and priority groups

The minister announced that in the first stage, between January and March 2021, the supply of doses of the vaccine will be limited. In the second stage, between May and June, the number of doses and the people to be vaccinated will gradually increase. By the third stage, the number of doses and vaccines will increase to cover all the priority groups.

The government’s aim, according to Salvador Illa, is to cover population groups in order of priority, starting with the most vulnerable. Thus, the first groups to be vaccinated will be those people who live in assisted-living homes for the elderly, healthcare workers and the day-care workers who care for them, and people with disabilities. These will be followed by the rest of the healthcare workers and non-institutionalized dependents. This group comprises some 2.5 million people.

Salvador Illa stressed that all the vaccines employed against COVID-19 will have the same levels of safety as any of the other vaccines habitually used to prevent other diseases. “Countries, institutions, researchers and companies all over the world are making an unprecedented effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Minister for Health also stressed that the vaccine will be administered free of charge and on a voluntary basis through the National Health System, the same as any other programmed vaccines.

Spain will receive 140 million doses to immunize some 80 million people, a number that is higher than the present population.

Monitoring, evaluation, logistics and communication

Salvador Illa announced that a special pharmacovigilance plan will be introduced to monitor all those people who have been vaccinated, their possible adverse reactions, and to control the second doses that need to be administered. Furthermore, Spain will take part, together with seven other countries, in a European study to monitor the efficacy of the vaccine.

As regards logistics, the minister pointed out that the system is ready to start administering the vaccine. He drew attention to the fact that each year one million people are vaccinated against the flu at 13,000 vaccination points, a figure that has significantly risen this year.

Salvador Illa also pointed out that the companies that distribute pharmaceutical and vaccination products are ready to guarantee the very low-temperature levels required for special conservation.

As regards the communication of the plan, the minister stressed that it will be governed by principles of truth, transparency, participation, equity and constant evaluation.

The minister reiterated that there will be a single plan for the whole country, drawn up with the collaboration of the regional governments in solidarity with Spain’s European partners: “We are facing one of the most important challenges ever as a country, which is to reduce to the utmost the impact of the pandemic with a vaccine that will provide immunity and save lives. Spain is a supportive, generous and committed country, and I am convinced that we will demonstrate this with a high vaccination rate.”

Acquisition of 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech

The BioNTech headquarters in Mainz, Germany

The Council of Ministers authorised the acquisition of more than 20 million doses of vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech. Spain signed up for the initial centralised purchase of 200 million doses agreed between the European Commission and the company, of which 20,873,941 doses correspond to Spain.


Images supplied by Guidepost from various sources.
Featured image/Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA4.0
Salvador Illa at the Council of Ministers/Pool Moncloa-Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
Vaccine/Jernej Furman, CC BY2.0
BioNTech HQ/Epizentrum, CC BY-SA4.0