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COVID-19 Booster Shot in Spain: Increasing the Interval to Protect those Infected with the Coronavirus

The criteria for obtaining a COVID-19 booster shot in Spain have been revised by Spanish health authorities. 

Previously, citizens who were infected with the coronavirus just needed to wait for four weeks after diagnosis before registering for a COVID-19 booster shot in Spain. 

However, recent changes in public health regulations state that people who test positive for the virus now have to wait at least 5 months from the time of their diagnosis before they’re able to receive their COVID-19 booster shot in Spain.

Omicron is the Dominant COVID-19 Variant Going Around Spain 

The majority of the COVID-19 cases in Spain are identified as being caused by the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. In the latter half of January this year, around 79.9% to 98.7% of the COVID-19 samples obtained from 14 regions were sequenced to be the omicron variant.

The delta variant is now contributing less to the number of coronavirus cases. Within the same period, there were only 1.2% to 9.3% of the COVID-19 samples sequenced to be the delta variant. 

There is no news yet regarding the detection of the omicron sub-variant BA.2 in Spain. However, neighboring countries have already reported cases brought about by the new variant. 

Current COVID-19 Situation in the Country

On the first day of February, Spain surpassed the 10 million mark in COVID-19 cases accumulated since the start of the pandemic. This comes after 77,873 new COVID-19 cases were added on the same day. 

Despite this, it has been the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases that the country has reported ever since December 23 of last year. It is also much lower than last week, with a reported number of cases as high as 114,877 at that time. The daily number of new cases seems to be continuously decreasing. 

Other European countries, such as Germany, are also crossing the 10 million mark. 

Apart from this, the cumulative incidence rate in the country is already on a downward trend, and it seems as if this will also continue. It is currently at 2,694 cases per 100,000 people. 

In terms of cases among age groups, those who are younger than 11 years old have the highest number of reported cases, with 5,157 new COVID-19 cases registered. This is compared to the 3,490 COVID-19 cases in the 30–39 year old age group and the 3,474 COVID-19 cases in the 12–19 year old age group. 

Admissions to hospitals due to COVID-19 have decreased to 18,087 cases. In comparison, there were 18,735 cases the day before. This results in a 14.52% occupancy rate of hospital beds.

Utilization of intensive care beds was computed to be 21.71%. There was a similar decrease in the number of ICU admissions from 2,107 patients down to 2,054. 

The number of deaths due to COVID-19 was higher this week, with 408 new deaths reported. There were just 382 new deaths reported on the same day last week.

A total of 90,272,896 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country. 15,667,572 citizens have also received their booster dose. In line with this, the country has achieved a 90.7% vaccination rate for citizens older than 12 years of age. This already pertains to those who are considered fully vaccinated. 53% of citizens in the 5–11 age group have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

With this, the sixth wave of the pandemic has reached its peak and is already flattening. 

Changes in Receiving a COVID-19 Booster Shot in Spain

Individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus have to wait longer before becoming eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in Spain. 

The five-month waiting period was brought about by discussions among virologists and immunologists. They have already questioned the four-week interval initially implemented because they deemed it too short. Obtaining a booster shot just a few weeks after recovery could possibly result in negative health consequences. 

Announcement on Receiving a COVID-19 Booster Shot in Spain
Isabel Rodríguez, spokesperson of the Spanish Government, announces the changes for administration of COVID-19 booster doses.

According to the Health Ministry, scientific evidence states that individuals who are already fully vaccinated then develop a coronavirus infection can already mount an effective immune response against other variants. As such, an infection with the coronavirus is as good as a booster dose.

Marcos López Hoyos, the president of the Spanish Immunology Society, says that “after vaccination, an omicron infection is like a new dose, but a more complete one, because we’re not just exposed to one part of the virus, as we are with the vaccine, but to all its antigens.” 

Administering the COVID-19 vaccine without appropriate intervals from the time of infection will not provide any more protection.   

Changes were also made for children receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. Those diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to receiving their first dose should wait for eight weeks before getting vaccinated. If a child is diagnosed with COVID-19 in between doses, the second dose will be given two months later.

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