Spaniards trust COVID-19 vaccines even as cases rise – .

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Spaniards trust COVID-19 vaccines even as cases rise – .



BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Like far too many young Spaniards in their twenties, Sergio Rosado saw the new, more contagious strain of coronavirus hit those who were too keen to let loose when authorities rolled back health restrictions with the resumption of vaccinations p

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Like far too many young Spaniards in their twenties, Sergio Rosado saw the new, more contagious strain of coronavirus hit those who were too keen to let loose when authorities rolled back health restrictions with accelerating vaccinations.
But the 22-year-old student shares widespread public confidence in vaccines, and Rosado plans to get the shot as soon as his turn comes.
“I have friends who caught COVID-19 at big parties. A lot of people I know have caught it, ”Rosado said. “I went out too, but in places without many people and in controlled spaces, and with face masks.”
Spain, like its fellow members of the European Union, got off to a slow start in administering vaccines compared to Britain and the United States after regulators approved the first vaccines. But once shipments from drug makers started pouring in to meet demand, the country quickly regained ground.
After fully immunizing only 10% of its adults from January to the end of April, nearly 54% of its adults, or around 25 million people, have now received two vaccines, making Spain one of the leaders in vaccination in the European Union to 27 countries. .
The program is built on Spain’s efficient public health system, a well-ordered vaccination plan that sticks strictly to age groups, and a population confident in the safety of childhood vaccinations and therefore largely resistant to skepticism about it. COVID-19 injections.
“Vaccination is part of our genome,” Amós García, president of the Spanish Association for Vaccinology, told The Associated Press. “Our professionals have always believed strongly in the benefits of vaccines. We have always strongly encouraged children from an early age to get vaccinated. “
He said general childhood immunization rates in Spain were over 95%.
Spain’s public health system, which has suffered budget cuts over the past decade, collapsed last year in the first wave of the virus, which left at least 81,000 people dead in the country.
But fears that the health system may not be up to the task of handling a massive vaccine rollout have proven to be unfounded. Eligibility information was widely disseminated and people did not hesitate to register when it was their age group’s turn. Vaccination lines usually moved quickly, and unlike in France, there were no paperwork to fill out when people went to their local clinics or mass vaccination points.
It also helped that no politician, even on the fringes of the right or the left, sowed doubt on vaccines. The only political problem with vaccines was when they didn’t arrive fast enough, and regional health authorities responsible for administering them demanded more speed.
“This is not a question of progressives or conservatives. It’s a public health issue, ”Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told MSNBC during a visit to the United States last week.
Unlike Germany or France, Spain doesn’t have a big anti-vaccine movement. More than 90% of Spanish public health workers have been vaccinated, compared to 42% of public health workers in France.
So while France and Greece have had to pressure skeptics and procrastinators to get vaccinated by making vaccines mandatory for people in certain jobs, like paramedics and nursing home workers , the Spaniards have so far needed very little encouragement.
By methodically moving down from the oldest to the bottom, Spain has achieved its first objective: to prevent the most vulnerable from dying. But the focus on vaccines as a salvation could also have helped young Spaniards let their guard down as curfews and face mask requirements were lifted, just as the delta variant has arrived.
The result is that, despite the good roll-out of its vaccines, Spain is currently one of Europe’s hot spots for new infections. Spain is now reporting more than 25,000 new cases per day compared to 3,400 per day a month ago, according to Our World in Data.
“A month ago, when we dropped most of the restrictions, we didn’t call it ‘Freedom Day’ like in England, but basically it was a pretty big step towards more freedom,” Rafael Bengoa, former director of health systems. to the WHO and one of Spain’s leading public health experts, the AP said.
This is one of the reasons we have the current epidemiological situation. “
“If you want to control the pandemic in this situation, you have to apply both traditional public health restrictions and vaccinations,” Bengoa explained.
In response, some regions have reinstated new restrictions, such as a nighttime curfew in the region that includes Barcelona.
Spain is counting on its vaccination program to make a rapid breakthrough among the under-40s and it appears that the desire to be vaccinated has not fallen victim to a generation gap. The Spanish government polling station said last week that nearly 90% of those surveyed under 35 said they wanted to be vaccinated.
Still, Bengoa believes the virus restrictions will remain in place for some time.
“We have to explain to the people that it is here to stay,” he said. “We will control it. But… you’re going to have to live with a virus that’s more dangerous than the flu. “
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Hernán Muñoz in Barcelona, ​​Aritz Parra in Madrid and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press

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