Private sector doctors begin receiving Covid vaccines in Algarve

“Slight warmth” throughout her body is what Maria Helena Gonçalves, a general practitioner (GP) at the Clínica Particular de Vilamoura, described feeling after receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday (March 2) at Faro Hospital.

But what she felt even stronger than that was a feeling of relief for finally receiving the vaccine and becoming one of the first health professionals working in the Algarve’s private health sector to be vaccinated.

“I know that the Doctors’ Order (Ordem dos Médicos) had been fighting for this for some time,” she said, referring to the goal of vaccinating health professionals in the private sector.

As the doctor pointed out, these health professionals have been working with the national health board’s guidelines as their only ‘protection’.

“There’s no doubt that this was taking a long time. They started the vaccinations in December, and we are already in March. We had to wait all this time,” she told reporters, stressing that many came into direct contact with people who tested positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Miguel Guimarães, the head of the Ordem dos Médicos, insisted on travelling to the Algarve to witness the first private health professionals being vaccinated.

He explained that the two-day vaccination process took place simultaneously in Faro and Portimão on Tuesday and Wednesday, with doctors aged over 65 receiving the Pfizer vaccine and the remainder receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

All in all, 200 health professionals received the first dose of the vaccines.

“Doctors (working) within the national health service (SNS) are being vaccinated; I don’t know if all of them have already, but the truth is that those who treat patients with or without Covid-19 outside of the SNS were not vaccinated. This challenge was launched by the coordinator of the vaccination task force, who asked us to coordinate it,” said Guimarães.

He added that around 4,200 doctors working in the private sector are expected to be inoculated across the country. Doctors who have already contracted the virus will wait until April, according to the DGS recommendations.

He also stressed that the ‘Ordem’ insists on presenting solutions when it launches criticism.

“We were aware that many doctors had not been vaccinated. We made this proposal and here we are collaborating and organising lists, checking which doctors are on it and what they do. I have to thank the Algarve University Hospital Centre (CHUA) and the president of the Algarve Health Administration (ARS Algarve), who also made this possible,” Guimarães said.

As he pointed out, “every time we vaccinate a doctor, we are also protecting many patients”.

Miguel Guimarães, the head of the Ordem dos Médicos, speaking to journalists outside Faro Hospital. Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP
On Tuesday, 200 health professionals in the private sector received the first dose of the vaccines. Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP