Wednesday, October 20

The paradox of being an essential worker and being over 55 years old




José Emilio is 56 years old, he is a teacher at a Secondary Institute of the Community of Madrid and he still does not know when the expected dose will reach his arm while his classmates are vaccinated. The same thing happens to Camino, a 58-year-old teacher at a Madrid school. She is still waiting for the vaccine and her 25-year-old daughter, a teacher at the same center, is already protected against the virus. Teachers have entered the category of essential personnel, with priority in the vaccination campaign for having more possibilities of contagion. They are not the only ones. Police, firefighters, pharmacists, ondontologists or physiotherapists have already begun to receive the first doses throughout Spain, although only those under 55 years of age are being immunized. Older professionals, with a higher risk of suffering complications from Covid by age, have been left in a limbo without the right to a vaccine.

curiously 25-year-old police, teachers or firefighters are immunized, but not their 60-year-old peers. The paradox has an explanation and goes through the misgivings that the AstraZeneca vaccine has aroused. The Ministry of Health decided to authorize the use of the drug only for adults up to 55 years of age due to insufficient data to support its efficacy beyond that age.

That left Health without the possibility of using the British vaccine in those over 80 and 90 years old, so it decided to speed up vaccination by giving preference to essential teachers. It wasn’t a bad decision, though left professionals over 55 years out of the game. There is no vaccination date for them yet. His turn could be delayed “several months”, unless a new shipment of vaccines arrives, Elena Andradas, director of Public Health of the Community of Madrid, warned yesterday. Despite being considered essential workers, they must wait for their turn to arrive by age, like the general population.

In all ages

The simplest solution is to use the AstraZeneca drug at all ages, without restrictions. Madrid has requested it by letter to the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias. And they have followed, at least, Andalusia and Catalonia. They all run out of patience. Alba Vergés, Catalan Minister of Health, has even threatened the Ministry of Health with making a decision without waiting for him. “We risk the health of our citizens. Thus, either they act or we act, “he wrote a few days ago in an article in La Vanguardia.

Last Thursday the Public Health Commission had on its agenda to debate this matter. Everything indicated that Spain was going to follow in the footsteps of Germany, France or Portugal, three countries that initially limited the AstraZeneca drug and then decided to remove the restrictions.

Thursday was a bad day to make such a decision. The debate coincided with the provisional recall of a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in nine European countries for fear that it could be behind several cases of thromboembolism and two suspected deaths.

The most controversial

The cause-effect relationship between the inoculation of the vaccine and the appearance of thrombi has not been proven, but the Ministry of Health once again opted for the precautionary principleThe decision was postponed until next week and with it the suspicion fell again on a vaccine that has not ceased to be controversial since its approval. At first, due to the failure to deliver the laboratory, later for its efficacy in the elderly and now for its safety.

Hope is now in the latest licensed vaccine, the one from Janssen / Johnson & Johnson. The drug already has a green light from the European Medicines Agency, although there is no date for its distribution yet.

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