Portugal begins “most demanding phase so far” of vaccination programme 

Portugal has embarked today on what prime minister António Costa and health minister Marta Temido have described as “the most demanding phase so far” of the country’s vaccination programme.

With 0.69% of the population already covered by two-shots of the Pfizer vaccine – and 2.66% having received one shot – authorities still have to inject 69.31% of citizens to reach longed for ‘group immunity’: the point where the virus loses traction.

This mission is now moving forwards with health centres up and down the country preparing to receive all citizens over the age of 80, and those over the age of 50 with certain pathologies (cardiac insufficiency, coronary disease, renal insufficiency and COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

It is a “universe of 900,000 people” demanding “great capacity for mobilisation of all health units”, said Mr Costa, adding that this particular phase will see Portugal make “a great leap and start to arrive at a much more diversified population” than the one initially targeted – involving mainly healthcare professionals, those in the frontline and seniors in old people’s homes and continuous care facilities.

Once this phase has been tackled, it will be the moment for ‘the rest of the population’.

This, said Mr Costa, will be “the challenge of all challenges” – but it is the only way out of the horrendous global crisis.

Meantime, the EU has been making “a very large effort”, said the PM, to “ensure the (pharmaceutical) industry complies with contracts and increases the capacity for production to accelerate the process of vaccination”.

France 24 television news confirmed that “BioNTech and Pfizer will now boost their vaccine deliveries to the EU after widespread outrage when they said they might not be able to meet demand… Both Pfizer and BioNTech will now expand their production capacities in Belgium and Germany”. 

Said Marta Temido, “we will all have to continue with measures of protection that we have learnt to practice over the last few months” as this will be “a long process”.

As for people who do not have an SNS family doctor assigned to them, Ms Temido has stressed “there are other ways”. 

One is to get a declaration from a private doctor that vaccination during this first phase of Portugal’s programme is required – and this will then be duly processed.

300 people have already handed in these declarations and will be receiving their vaccines over the course of the next two months.

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