Doctor António Sarmento receiving the first Covid jab
Doctor António Sarmento receiving the first Covid jab in Portugal at Hospital de São João, Porto on December 27, 2020 - Photo: JOSÉ COELHO/LUSA

Two years on, over 26 million Covid-19 jabs given in Portugal

Almost 2.1 million doses were unusable because they had passed their expiry date

From a first batch of 9,750 Covid-19 vaccines, two years on Portugal accounts for 26.5 million doses administered. The first person to receive the jab in Portugal was an infectious disease physician on December 27, 2020.

The vaccination campaign against the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus symbolically kicked off at the São João Hospital in Porto, exactly two years ago today (December 27), when António Sarmento received, in the presence of the then health minister Marta Temido, what must have been the most publicised vaccine shot.

The first batch of vaccines had arrived in Portugal the day before and had been developed by Pfizer-BioNTech. Because there were still few vaccines worldwide, the first batch was intended for health professionals, more exposed to Covid-19.

The vaccines, also developed by other pharmaceutical companies, would regularly arrive in the country, first for people in groups considered priorities (such as the elderly, people with diseases, or health professionals, nursing home and essential services workers) but later extended to the entire population.

Two years ago, on this date, Covid-19 (nine months after the first recorded case in the country) had already caused 6,556 deaths, of the 392,996 confirmed cases of infection, according to data from the national health authority (DGS) at the time.

The vaccine was, in the last two years, administered to almost all age groups (from five years old), with almost all people over 25 having received at least one dose. Currently available (since December 22) is a booster shot for people over 50 years old through the “open house” system (without the need for an appointment).

The “open house” system is also still available for priority professional groups and for the vaccination and reinforcement of people between 18 and 59 years old and primary vaccination over 12 years old.

According to the latest official data, the current autumn-winter booster vaccination campaign has already covered more than 2.9 million people.

Currently, eight different types of vaccines are available in Portugal and, according to the ministry of health, in the two years of the vaccination programme, between first doses and booster doses, 26.5 million doses have been administered.

An assessment by the health ministry also indicates that almost 2.1 million doses were unusable because they had passed their expiry date, corresponding to 5.5% of the total, one of the lowest rates of unusability in Europe.

The government also says that in order to “optimise available vaccine doses”, Portugal has, since 2021, resold and donated vaccines, with about eight million vaccines having been donated and more than 2.5 million doses resold.

So far, according to the same source, Portugal has received 38.5 million doses of vaccines, in a process led by the European Commission.

Lusa news agency questioned the health ministry about the costs of the whole vaccination process but did not receive a reply.

Source: Lusa