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Health technicians and communities endorse the third dose of the vaccine for everyone over 50 years of age | Society

Everyone over 50 who so wishes will receive a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The Vaccine Conference, the team of technicians that advises the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities, has endorsed the reinforcement puncture for this group six months after receiving the last injection, as well as for those who have a double AstraZeneca guideline, that is, a good part of the essential workers under the age of 60 who were vaccinated last spring. The decision will have to be ratified this Thursday by the Public Health Commission, made up of the general directors of this area, as confirmed this Wednesday by the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias.

Spain will join three weeks later, and partially, to the recommendation of the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC, for its acronym in English), which indicated the third dose for people over 40 years old on November 24. It is something that countries such as Israel, Germany, France, the United States or the United Kingdom are already implementing, many of them for their entire adult population.

In Spain, technicians have preferred to be more conservative with this measure to focus first on those they considered a priority: those over 60 years of age, who are the ones most at risk of suffering a worsening of the covid that takes them to hospital or even causes them death. But both the uncertainty of the omicron variant, against which vaccines seem to show worse results, as well as the strong rise in the sixth wave and the fact that the rate of vaccination among the elderly has stagnated it has led them to advance with the age ranges.

The decision comes about six months after the vaccinations of most people between 50 and 60 years old, who received the second dose in June. The age strategy that Spain has followed from the beginning for vaccination thus continues to be implicitly fulfilled. Technicians have a few weeks to decide whether to prescribe the vaccine for those between 40 and 49 years before half a year passes from the last puncture for most of them.

Darias has underlined after the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System that the vaccination strategy is continually being reviewed and will advance as the technicians advise it. “Vaccines protect, they save lives, but over time, they lose effectiveness. We know that the booster dose works and hence a call for them to come to be vaccinated to continue protecting us ”, he said.

Health sources assume that in the coming weeks the decision will be to inject the third dose also among the forty-somethings and they defend that it is the progressive advance that has worked so far in Spain and has placed it as one of the world leaders in inoculations.

The minister has indicated that despite the fact that the epidemiological wave continues to grow strongly (the cumulative incidence reached 441 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days this Wednesday), it does so at a much slower rate among those over 70 years of age, who are precisely those who have mostly received the third dose. He also recalled that the rate of hospital admissions rises much slower than in previous waves: 5.2% of beds are occupied by patients with covid, a figure that rises to 13.4% in ICUs.

For the experts in vaccinology and immunology consulted by this newspaper in recent daysRevaccinate those under 60 years of age was not a priority. Several studies that show how the third dose strengthens the immune response and a very recent one that shows that it decreases an additional 90% of protection against hospitalization. They argued that this was very useful for the elderly and vulnerable, in whom the effects of the double standard were beginning to wane. However, they did not see it as urgent in people younger than 60. “In itself it is very rare for a person of this age to require hospitalization. With the complete two-dose schedule, even less ”, explained Jaime Jesús Pérez, from the Spanish Society of Vaccination.

Miguel Hernán, professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, disagrees with this point of view. “There is evidence of its usefulness in people under 60 years old for months. Our study with data from Israel, available since September, showed that the risk of hospitalization due to covid (delta variant) was considerably reduced in all age groups after the third dose ”, he reflects.

In his opinion after an “exemplary” vaccination campaign to reduce covid hospitalizations, continuing to delay the third dose of adults is a mistake, regardless of age. “It is essential to maintain immunity against delta, and now it seems that even more so for omicron. Also, it is not clear that you have to wait five or six months. The United Kingdom is administering it to all three as an urgent measure against omicron. It will take our Oxford / Harvard team a while to determine the comparative effectiveness of each alternative, but those are details. The important thing now is to act quickly to avoid a new overload of health systems. We have the tool. You just have to use it ”, ditch.

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