Josefa Pérez becomes first person to receive Covid-19 vaccine in Catalonia
Pfizer vaccination campaign begins at l'Hospitalet de Llobregat nursing home
After more than nine months of pandemic-related disruption, the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Catalonia has begun.
The first person to receive the Pfizer BioNTech jab, administered on Sunday at midday, was Josefa Pérez, an 89-year-old originally from Galicia who resides at the Feixa Llarga nursing home in l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, a city directly south of Barcelona.
Immediately afterward, the director of the nursing home, 52-year-old Conxita Barbeta, was also given the vaccine amid the applause of several workers, residents, and authorities, including the interim Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, and the health minister, Alba Vergés.
Nurse Idoia Crespo was the person in charge of administering both vaccines. Pérez and Barbeta will receive the second dose in three weeks' time.
This historic event comes after Catalonia received 1,595 doses at 10 am on Sunday. People at eight other nursing homes in Catalonia's other health regions will also be given the shot at around 3 pm.
The homes that have been selected to be the site of Catalonia's first inoculations are Nostra Senyora de Ribera in la Pobla de Segur; Balàfia I in Lleida; Mercè in Tarragona; Natzaret in Móra d'Ebre; Font de Capellans in Manresa; Mil·lenari in Ciutat Vella, Barcelona; Sabadell Gent Gran, and Creu de Palau in Girona.
'Day of hope'
Talking to the press after the beginning of the vaccine rollout, Aragonès thanked the scientific community, including the contribution of Catalan research centers, for the prompt development of a solution in the face of Covid-19.
"We are beginning to see the beginning of the end, the light at the end of the tunnel," he said, adding that, however, the coming months would still be difficult.
Health minister Alba Vergés said that this Sunday is "a day of hope" and called the start of the vaccine rollout is "a tipping point," explaining that 104,000 nursing home residents and workers would be vaccinated in the coming two weeks.
Yet, both Vergés and the public health secretary, Josep Maria Argimon, called on the public to continue to be "cautious" because Catalonia is still far from achieving herd immunity.
Argimon also stated that 61 of the 64 Feixa Llarga residents consented to be vaccinated and urged health workers in general to follow their example.
Vaccine rollout phases
Catalonia will receive 60,000 doses every Monday that will then be administered every Tuesday, with the health department planning to dispense 700,000 doses to 350,000 people by the end of March as part of the first phase of the vaccine rollout targeting nursing home residents and staff as well as other health professionals and people with severe disabilities.
The second phase will cover other critical groups through to June, as the number of doses available as part of the EU joint purchase scheme is expected to "increase progressively."
The third phase is set to cover the rest of the population, which has been divided into 18 groups for the purposes of delivering the vaccine – although only the first four have been disclosed so far.
First person to be vaccinated in Spain
The first person in Spain to be vaccinated was Araceli Hidalgo, a 96-year-old from Guadix (Granada), who lives in the Los Olmos nursing home in Guadalajara.
She was given the vaccine at 9 am, not long before Mónica Tapia, who works at the same center, received a dose as well.