Covid-19: Large European countries begin to vaccinate without age restrictions | Society

Europe steps on the accelerator of vaccines before the arrival of summer. Spain continues to immunize according to age groups, except in cases of individuals with specific risk factors, and is now making progress in vaccinating people between 40 and 49 years of age. But other big European countries have started to open the dating ban without age restrictions. Which does not mean, in all cases, that the youngest will receive their dose imminently.

Italy gave a boost to its vaccination campaign with the arrival of Mario Draghi to the presidency of the Council of Ministers last February. The former president of the ECB put the Italian army general Francesco Paolo Figliuolo at the head of the mission, who changed the strategy, but also enjoyed a much higher number of doses to administer to the population. It has been a success. Until this Thursday, 35,817,595 people have been vaccinated in Italy, while 12,397,459 have completed the guideline, which represents 12% of those over 12 years of age, according to data from the Ministry of Health. At this point, the Government has decided to open the registration list to the entire population.

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The priorities have now changed. A majority part of the population at greatest risk has been saved (in some regions this is not yet the case), the target is now young people. And, above all, avoid that the month of August becomes a lost month due to the summer holidays. Something that the Italian Executive intends to solve with the acceleration of the campaign, but also by expanding the vaccination infrastructure in certain summer areas.

Italy allows from Thursday morning to book an appointment to be vaccinated to all those over 12 years old. But the opening of the vaccine campaign to the entire population shows small differences between regions: some have decided to wait yet and focus on those over 18 years of age; Others, such as Lombardia, Veneto, Campania and Calabria, began this Thursday to accept reservations also from 12 years old. Until now, many of these regions held “open house days” from time to time, days in which everyone could sign up to receive the first dose of the vaccine. Some, like the one this week in Bologna, have ended with huge lines and fights, as there are not enough doses available for all the people who had signed up.

In France, it will be from the next day 15 when young people from 12 to 18 years old will begin to be vaccinated against covid-19. Vaccination for this age group will be “voluntary” and “with the agreement of the parents, in no case mandatory,” French Minister of Health Olivier Véran explained on Wednesday on the TF1 network’s evening newscast. “[La medida] participate in the collective immunity movement that will allow us, hopefully, to avoid the closure of school and high school classes at the beginning of the year [en septiembre], and protect adolescents, “added Verán, before recalling that the measure has the authorization of” French, European and world health authorities. ” Immunization will be done with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

A woman receives the Pfizer vaccine on May 31 in Paris.
A woman receives the Pfizer vaccine on May 31 in Paris.BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

The announcement, after the vaccination to everyone over 18 years of age was already open on Monday, contributes to the feeling of optimism that, for the first time in many months, has swept through France since the reopening of the terraces of cafes, museums, shops and other public spaces on May 19. 50% of adults in France have received the first dose. The world, in an editorial, he speaks of an atmosphere of “covida”, a play on words between the covid and the Madrid scene, described by the Parisian newspaper as the moment of “creative euphoria” and “unleashed fun” in Spain after Franco’s death.

And the French know that, without a vaccine, there will be no “covida” that is worth it. That is why they have put aside the reluctance they showed at the beginning of the vaccination process, when France was one of the European countries with the most skeptics and the slow start of the campaign sowed doubts among citizens. So four out of 10 French people did not intend to be immunized. Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign has accelerated, exceeding the planned schedule. And now there are more than six in 10, or more, according to some polls, who want to be vaccinated. Many already have only one thing in mind after a winter of lockdowns, curfews and mobility restrictions: summer vacation and the chance to breathe again.

But the possibility of making appointments to get vaccinated does not necessarily mean that everyone who wants to get their dose. This is the case of Germany, which will eliminate priority vaccination groups from June 7. From that day on, anyone over the age of 12 can book an appointment to get vaccinated, which does not mean that they will get one. In fact, in the large vaccination centers of cities like the capital Berlin, it is impossible to find a gap neither in June nor in July nor later. And it has been that way for weeks.

Queue of people waiting to get vaccinated in Cologne, Germany on May 8.
Queue of people waiting to get vaccinated in Cologne, Germany on May 8. SASCHA STEINBACH / EFE

Until now, three groups were being immunized: 1, of the highest priority (over 80 years, people living in residences and first-line health workers); 2, of high priority (over 70, vulnerable people due to certain diseases, police, pregnant women and homeless people), and 3, of medium priority (over 60, people with other diseases, other health workers, and workers of certain trades such as the administration of justice, education or retail). Groups 1 and 2 are practically immunized, but not 3.

However, many people who do not belong to these groups have managed to get vaccinated in the consultations of private doctors who have been able to decide which patients they administered the vaccines. Social networks and WhatsApp groups are full of advice on consultations in which you can get an appointment, even if it is in another State. Getting vaccinated has become a race with the approach of summer vacation and, in many cases, a matter of luck or trust with a vaccinating doctor. Physicians’ associations have complained of the harassment they suffer in their consultations with constant calls to ask if they have appointments. Health Minister Jens Spahn asked for patience when he announced the change in mid-May: “Not everyone will be able to get vaccinated in June.” His government promises that anyone who wants will be able to do so before the end of the summer.