People have been queuing to receive COVID-19 vaccines at vaccination centers across Spain, as authorities intensify efforts to vaccinate the small proportion of the population that has not yet been injected.
As Europe experiences a new wave of coronavirus, several regions in Spain have introduced stricter measures for the unvaccinated ahead of the Christmas season, extending the use of the COVID-19 certificate to enter public places such as bars and restaurants.
More than 80% of the Spanish population is already immunized, but fear of the Omicron variant has triggered a vaccination campaign in the country.
Since mid-November, nearly 200,000 Spaniards who were reluctant to get vaccinated at first have finally taken the plunge.
Both the young and the old are getting the vaccine for the first time.
“I’m 19 years old and I’m getting my first dose from the family reunions we’re having soon. It’s not that I don’t need it, it’s that I avoided it and now you can’t do that anymore.” ”, The young Marina Sánchez told Euronews.
The vaccine booster campaign follows the rise in new coronavirus cases and growing concerns regarding the Omicron variant, as cases of the new variants have been detected in the country.
However, some epidemiologists are suggesting that inoculation is not the only solution.
“Now we know that the ability of the virus to spread is much greater. It is approximately three times greater and there is no magic recipe. The vaccine is not the solution. We cannot forget everything because we are vaccinated. The situation shows that there is a new outbreak and those who have not received the puncture should do so now. But at the same time, we must observe other measures, such as the use of masks, social distancing and interior ventilation, “said epidemiologist Angela Domínguez.
Hospitals are not overcrowded, but doctors are still urging the public to stay tuned for new strains like the Omicron variant.
“My recommendation to the public is to heed the advice of scientific institutions. So when we finally see how effective vaccines are, please pay attention. This is not over yet,” warned Dr. Javier García Fernández, president of the society. of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care.
As new restrictions are imposed to cope with the new wave, the tourism and hospitality sectors fear another disappointing holiday season, with Omicron possibly making things worse.
The bars and restaurants of Madrid are already full before the thousands of festive gatherings that are typical in Spain before Christmas.
Hotel business owners warn they won’t be able to stay afloat if there are more restrictions after last year’s devastating season.
“We cannot allow the bars and restaurants to close again. They have hit us hard. Most of the companies are in debt. What we want to send is a positive message and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that this celebration, that everyone it deserves, it does not translate into a wave of cases, “said the director of the Madrid Hospitality Association, Juan José Blardony.
In the last two weeks, Spain registered almost 100,000 new cases, but it is still far from being a high risk of transmission.
This Christmas can be a litmus test for Spain’s strategy against COVID-19.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism