Gouveia e Melo in his role as coordinator of Portugal's vaccinations task force

Portugal’s mass Covid vaccination plan to see citizens ‘requesting inoculations’ online

Portugal’s mass vaccination plan against Covid-19 is to see citizens ‘self-scheduling’ online.

With Phase One of the programme close to its end (meaning all the over-80s and priority groups will have been vaccinated by April 11), Phase Two is to focus on people by ages, from the oldest to the youngest.

Vaccine task force coordinator Gouveia e Melo has long stressed the target of vaccinating 100,000 people a day, but as he explained in parliament this morning one of the ‘concerns’ for authorities is reaching enough people to ensure that 100,000 actually turn up every day. Hence the idea for ‘auto-scheduling’ via an online platform.

“The objective is that people say: ‘I am here. I am within the criteria. I want to be vaccinated at the closest vaccination centre you can offer me…” he said

It’s an ingenious scheme as it ensures authorities reach the people who actually want to be vaccinated – instead perhaps of calling or messaging those who don’t.

Said the Naval vice-admiral there should be 150 Centres for Covid Vaccination (CVCs) in place by the second trimester of 2021 (ie between April and June).

To ensure logistics for the ‘mass rollout’ strategy, he has said the CVCs need to be run by 2,500 nurses, 400 doctors and 2,300 auxiliaries: a total of 5,200 professionals.

As has been previously explained, whereas the country received less than two million doses of the various emergency-use-approved vaccines in the first three months of the year, the second three months is scheduled to see the arrival of up to nine million doses – of which 1.25 million will be the one-shot Janssen jabs.

If everything goes according to plan, the roll-out is well on course to have more than 70% of the country vaccinated with at least the first dose of the two-shot vaccines by the end of the summer, said Gouveia e Melo this morning – discounting clotting concerns that have re-emerged in other countries over the AstraZeneca jab, now renamed “Vaxzeveria”.

He told MPs: “There are a number of movements around AstraZeneca which cannot be understood: whether they are of clinical concern, or of another order. What we have decided is to follow the recommendations of the European regulator. Right now, there are no restrictions (over its use). The understand is that advantages outweigh any inconvenience caused”.

Also ‘news’ on the vaccination front has been the ‘about-turn’ by the DGS health authority in respect of vaccinating the many hundreds of thousands  who previously tested positive for the virus. Initially, guidance was that vaccination was not necessary until these people were called. Now the thinking is that everyone should be given the chance of taking up the vaccine, no matter whether they have previously had and recovered from Covid, or not.

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