Day Three of Portugal’s mass-vaccination programme sees healthcare workers in Algarve and Alentejo get first jabs

Day three of Portugal’s mass-vaccination programme has seen healthcare workers in the Algarve and Alentejo start receiving their first jabs of the two-dose BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

Thousands of medical professionals have now started the process of becoming inoculated against Covid-19 in this ‘first phase’ of a programme that will stretch well into the New Year.

The Azores and Madeira are still waiting for their delivery of vaccines, but the first almost 10,000 doses are expected to arrive tomorrow evening, for a roll-out scheduled to begin on Thursday.

The latest numbers have seen a new increase in new infections (after a couple of days in which new infections appeared to be ‘coming down’, they are now ‘back up’ to over 3,000 again) but a dramatic drop in the number of ‘active infections’ as well as in the numbers of people in hospital.

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According to SIC television news, most of the 1,100 vaccines being administered in the Algarve this week are destined for medical and operational personnel in the hospitals of Faro and Portimão. Around 200 doses will be given to professionals in health centres who deal with Covid-19.

Beyond Portugal, countries are already taking measures to identify citizens who do not voluntarily take up the opportunity to be inoculated. Spain is creating a registry of people who refuse the vaccine and, according to the country’s health minister, intends to share it with other European Union member states. France – where 55% of nationals say they don’t want the vaccine – has seen prime minister Jena Castex get cabinet backing for a draft law which could mean that unvaccinated people are banned from using public transport.

Portugal’s vaccination programme coordinator Francisco Ramos has already said that in his opinion the wishes of people who do not want to take up the vaccine should be respected.

Since Ramos’ comments, there has been no official reference to citizens who for whatever reason may not wish to receive the vaccine.

There has however been a bit of a kerfuffle between the PSP and GNR police forces in the distribution of the various lotes of vaccine.

A delivery to Évora hospital last night was apparently ‘blocked’ by the PSP, on the basis that the PSP has jurisdiction in towns, the GNR in the countryside.

The incident held up the delivery by a couple of hours and has resulted in the Interior Ministry ‘opening an inquiry’.

It is quite likely that there will be all kinds of incidents as the programme is rolled out, simply because this is the largest mass-vaccination effort the country has ever seen. But for now at least there have been no ‘dramas’ and no reported allergic reactions in any of the people so far inoculated.

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