Spain recommends administering AstraZeneca only to over 60-year-olds

Health ministry proposes temporarily stopping vaccinations using the English-Swedish brand for those under 60

Close up shot of an AstraZeneca vaccine dose (by Marina López)
Close up shot of an AstraZeneca vaccine dose (by Marina López) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 7, 2021 09:42 PM

The Spanish government has recommended exclusively administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 60-year-olds.

In a meeting with regional governments, including Catalonia's, the Spanish health ministry proposed on Wednesday evening temporarily stopping vaccinating under 60s with the English-Swedish brand, AstraZeneca, to which the vast majority of regions agreed. 

Sources from the Catalan government added that at the summit it was said that Spain has only recommended administering the jab to those between 60 and 65. Indeed, the Catalan health minister, Alba Vergés, welcomed Madrid's recommendation and said the ban on giving it to younger people is "what Catalonia had always been defending." 

She added that her department is "surprised" at the several changes Spain has put forward around the use of AstraZeneca over the past few weeks and also emphasized that other EU member states had already been implementing this cap to under-60s before Spain decided to do so on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, Spain's committee on public health will discuss whether to also administer it to those over 65 and what the procedure will be for those under 60 who have already received one dose and are awaiting their second one. 

According to the Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias, two options are on the table: not vaccinating again those under 60 with one dose, or using another brand for the second dose. 

This comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced earlier on Wednesday that it had found a "possible link" between the jab and "very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets," especially affecting women under the age of 60.

Yet, the institution made clear that "the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.

In late March, after the first wave of widespread fear over the AstraZeneca jab, Catalonia resumed vaccinations, but only for those between 60 and 65, and, indeed, since then over 200,000 appointments have been released.

200,000 residents in Catalonia already have an AstraZeneca dose

However, before mid-March, the Catalan health system had already vaccinated around 200,000 people under 60 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, mostly essential workers. 

Health minister Vergés said she expects a decision on this group - who are all pending a second dose - next Wednesday in the coordination meeting between the Spanish government and the regional cabinets.