https://www.sciencemag.org/

‘Awareness campaign’ begins to encourage Portugal’s youth to be vaccinated against Covid-19

A concerted awareness campaign is getting underway to encourage Portugal’s youth to accept the Covid-19 vaccinations.

With many young people becoming increasingly aware that without these vaccinations travel will become more expensive and access to large events like concerts more problematic, authorities are hoping age-groups showing ‘the greatest reluctance to be vaccinated’ will relent, if only out of expediency.

In a statement today, SPGS – the society for health management in Portugal – has stressed that it is the younger age groups that are “showing the greatest possibilities of contagion”.

The increase, for example, of cases within the Greater Lisbon area are being powered by people aged between 20-40.

Says SPGS, the spread of the Delta variant is likely to be ‘rapid’ across national territory – irrespective of any weekend lockdown measures in place in the Greater Lisbon area – and “vaccines continue to protect against serious illness” resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection, albeit they are “progressively less efficient as time passes”.

This last point appears to open the door to repeat vaccinations further down the line.

What today is bringing, without any doubt, is the message that ‘liberty to circulate’ in Portugal will become more and more conditioned if people do not opt for Covid-19 vaccinations.

SPGS has ‘defended’ for example “much more rigid control of airports”, reports SIC this morning, on the basis that Portugal is facing “more complex variants that had been expected in this kind of virus”.

The message is that “all passengers should be tested coming from countries with high incidence of the virus” (irrespective of their state of vaccination or otherwise?) and “rigorous quarantines” imposed for anyone who tests positive.

“Control of the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon should be more restricted and prolonged”, says the society, “to try and avoid to the maximum dissemination of the virus.

Measures imposed up till now are “almost derisory” and not aggressive enough, says SPGS.

“We could be returning to a point where the return to normal activity of the SNS health service for non-Covid patients is once again at risk”, says its communiqué – insisting that every citizen over the age of 18 needs to be jabbed.

Again, these messages could be seen as slightly OTT. Virologist Pedro Simas, for example – an internationally renowned expert whose advice has been solid throughout the pandemic – continues to insist that the fuss being made of the Delta variant is unnecessary.

Yes, it is more transmissible, but it is not more deadly: it is not leading to vast numbers of people entering hospital with the worst symptoms of Covid-19. In short, it is not escalating death tolls, which are currently easily within European averages for this time of year – indeed deaths in Portugal are even lower than ‘normal’ right now.

“It’s natural that new cases of infection that appear will be in the main from the Delta variant”, he told SIC television news last night. But “happily, up till now there has been no variant that provokes more serious illness or which puts the efficacy of the vaccines in relation to people getting severe illness and dying at risk. This is the good news. It is also unlikely that any more virulent variant will appear in this sense…”

Mr Simas stressed that the best course of action for everyone is to continue with measures of mask-wearing and physical distancing, while authorities continue with their vaccination roll-out.

The ‘message’ going out to young people is not confined to Portugal. It is going ahead in practically every country. In the United States for example the message includes the contention that “young people can help more businesses fully reopen safely by increasing safety and driving down infections. (This will) also help young employees who have been hit hard economically”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com