Spain’s health minister said the vaccine is voluntary, but a register – “done with the utmost respect for data protection” – will be made of those who refuse.
- Spain started vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19 on Sunday.
- The country’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said that inoculation is voluntary but authorities will keep a list of everyone who refuses and share it with the European Union.
- The list will not be made public and “will be done with the utmost respect for data protection,” Illa told TV channel La Sexta.
- Spain has just experienced a brutal second wave of COVID-19. It is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, and as of Sunday had seen more than 50,000 deaths with the virus.
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Spain is setting up a register of citizens who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and will share the list with other European Union countries, the country’s health minister announced.
Spain took delivery of its first doses on Sunday, with the plan to vaccinate 2.3 million people over the next 12 weeks, El País reported. Inoculation started on Sunday, with the first dose going to a 96-year-old citizen, the paper said.
Health Minister Salvador Illa told broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday that receiving the vaccine will be a voluntary process whereby citizens are called up for their doses, free of charge, by the country’s national health system.
But he encouraged people to get it, saying: “The way to defeat the virus is by vaccinating all of us.”
He confirmed that other European partners will be given access to the register of those who turn it down, “as is done with other treatments,” he said.
But he added: “It is not a document to be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.” It is not clear exactly what personal data is to be recorded and shared.
The European Commission proposed a wide set of measures for cooperation and data-sharing around vaccinations in the bloc in April 2018.
Spain is one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus. It has seen almost 1.9 million cases, and as of Monday, just over 50,000 people have died with the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.
As with many other European countries, it saw a resurgence of cases in the fall.
That wave appears to be in decline, but Illa said on Sunday that people should not “let their guard down.”
Spanish people remain under curfew between 11p.m. and 6a.m., with many areas keeping people at home except for work, care duties or accessing medicine, according to the BBC. This regimen is expected to stay in place until May, the broadcaster reported.
Spain is currently vaccinating citizens with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is administered in two phases, according to El País.
Under the country’s National Health System, people will be notified when they should go to receive their first and second doses, Illa told La Sexta.
Other vaccines will also be used as they get approval from the European Medical Agency, according to El País.
Europe currently faces a new concern over a new coronavirus variant, believed to be more contagious, that originated in the UK. The new variant has been reported in EU nations including Spain, France, and Germany.