The Algarve’s Covid-19 vaccination centres – some of which have been waiting for the green light to open for weeks – finally started opening this week, at a time when health authorities are hoping to reach herd immunity by this summer.
Monday saw the inauguration of vaccination centres in Portimão, Lagos, Silves and Lagoa, while vaccination centres in Albufeira, Loulé, Faro, São Brás de Alportel, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António were all due to be up and running by Wednesday, a source from regional health authority ARS Algarve told the Resident.
The vaccination centres are managed by the region’s health centre groups and manned by health professionals from the national health system and local health centres.
The region’s remaining boroughs – Aljezur, Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Monchique and Vila do Bispo – will be carrying out vaccinations at their local health centres, the source added.
The opening of Portimão’s vaccination centre on Monday grabbed the most headlines as the borough was forced to take a step back last week in its emergence from lockdown due to rising Covid-19 cases.
Attending its inauguration ceremony was Portugal’s Secretary of State for Health, who said the country may reach herd immunity by the start of summer if all goes according to plan.
“If our forecasts prove to be true, we will have 70% of Portugal’s adult population vaccinated more towards the beginning of the summer than the end,” Diogo Serras Lopes told reporters.
This is not a guarantee, he stressed, as there has been in the past some “bad news about the delivery of vaccines”.
Lopes also revealed that vaccination efforts are being upped in the boroughs which had to take a step back – Portimão included, where the vaccination centre is equipped to vaccinate 100 people per hour – and rejected the notion that there have been delays in the vaccination of the Algarve’s population.
“There are no vaccination delays in the Algarve,” he said, adding that the “rhythm of vaccination depends on the number of vaccines that arrive” in the country.
The secretary of state highlighted that the Algarve is a “vital area for the country in terms of economy” and recognised that Portimão is “making a real effort” to lower its Covid-19 numbers.
Meanwhile, Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes told news agency Lusa she is pleased to see that the government has met the demands she made last week after the borough was “unfairly” forced to take a step back.
Said the mayor, not only has the vaccination centre opened but a promise was made to “increase vaccinations, improve and strengthen the intervention of police forces and boost the number of health professionals to follow patients infected with Covid-19”.