The vaccination campaign against covid began this Sunday in Spain at a residence in Guadalajara. There, Araceli Hidalgo, 96, has received the first puncture of the millions that will be put all over the country in the coming months. What happens from now on? These are some of the main unknowns that arise. Some have an answer, others have not yet.
When does the vaccine start to work?
The Pfizer vaccine needs two doses, 21 days apart. Complete immunization ( about 95%, based on clinical trials ) is achieved about a week after the second dose. Before that, the immune system begins to kick in and the disease is less likely to develop than without a vaccine, but the drug has not yet reached its full potential.
How long does the immunization last?
It is not known. It happens with all new vaccines: it is not known how long the immunization lasts until the time when the vaccine stops working. Both laboratories and health services have to maintain surveillance to verify when this happens.
The hypothesis that a reminder of the vaccine is necessary a year after giving it, or two, as it happens with other immunizations, is not ruled out. Nor does the vaccination have to be recurrent every year. But all this will only prove itself over time.
When and how will they start meeting at the health centers?
What has started this Sunday is the first phase of the vaccination plan, which starts with residents in social and health centers, their caregivers, and continues with health workers and large dependents.
This first phase, in which approximately 2.5 million people will be punctured,it will last about three months. Once finished, the next group will begin, which has yet to be announced. Most likely, they are those over 64 and the chronically ill.
Although the plans for this phase are not yet outlined, it is expected that they will be given an appointment as appropriate in their outpatient clinics. “Citizens will receive a summons, according to the risk group to which they belong, to go to the health center.
It is voluntary and free. It is an act that benefits the person who is vaccinated and the community ”, said this Sunday the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.
Who are considered large dependents? According to the vaccination strategy of the Ministry of Health, this group includes people considered large dependents (grade III) according to the Dependency Law (Law 39/2006, of December 14), those who have requested recognition and those who have not applied for it yet, but is medically accredited for having diseases that require intense support measures to develop their life, including institutionalized and non-institutionalized
“The time of vaccination will be carried out as soon as possible, taking into account the characteristics of conservation and use of the available vaccine. The personnel who professionally care for these highly dependent people will be able to be vaccinated in the same visit ”, adds the strategy.
What about those who have private insurance?
Vaccination will be free and will be administered by the National Health System in the order determined by the Ministry of Health.
What measures must be followed when receiving the vaccine?
In principle, the same as until now, until there is enough vaccinated population to achieve herd immunity, which is estimated at around 70% of the population.
Although the vaccine is known to be very good at preventing the development of the disease, it is not yet clear to what extent it prevents the spread of the virus. This means that it is possible for a person who is vaccinated to continue infecting asymptomatically and becoming a vector for the spread of covid.
When will enough people be vaccinated in Spain to achieve herd immunity?
As time goes on, more vaccines will arrive, not just from Pfizer, but, predictably, from other manufacturers as well.
Although the initial rate will be 350,000 punctures a week, as more pharmaceutical companies deliver their medications, this will increase. Health estimates that between May and June 20 million people will be immunized and that by the end of the summer, a large percentage of the population will have been vaccinated, probably enough to achieve herd immunity.
What follow-up is done to those vaccinated?
All those vaccinated will receive a vaccination card that will include the type of immunization administered and the batch number, the date of administration of the first dose and that expected for the second, the contact method for consultation if an adverse reaction is suspected and a phone number to call if you notice any side effects not covered in the package insert.
There begins what is known as phase 4 of the clinical trial. In the previous one, frequent side effects could be observed (such as fatigue, tiredness, some fever the next day) or that affected, at most, one in every 30,000 people (who are the subjects who received the drug).
But for more strange effects, those that occur in one case per 100,000 or per million, how the drug behaves as it is administered is monitored. More precise data are also collected on specific population groups for which there were not such representative samples in the early trials.
This will be done through primary care and a centralized database in each autonomous community, which will be connected to a national and European system.