Vaccines in Portugal “won’t have an effect until autumn”, say health managers

The effects of Portugal’s mass-vaccination programme – underway since last Sunday – won’t be felt before the autumn “at best”.

This is the verdict of the Portuguese Society of Health Management which has today issued a statement “admitting it is concerned with some negative reactions from the population”.

People are apparently unhappy with the date an SNS/DGS (health authority) simulator gives them for the likely moment they will receive their vaccine/s.

Following a similar path as the General Medical Council (click here), the society stresses: “Although vaccinations begin in earnest this month, their beneficial effects are unlikely to be felt within the community before the autumn at best.

A person of 85, for example, with no apparent serious illnesses or conditions and still living autonomously (ie not in an old people’s home) “will only be vaccinated in April or May”.

Someone aged 55 “still has no date available, in that his or her vaccination could take place according to the simulator around June/ July or even later…”

Accepting that the arrival in Portugal of the first batch of vaccines before the end of 2020 “was simply a symbolic act which aimed to show a light of hope to Europeans and the world”, the society “guaranteed that the idea that the end of the pandemic is just around the corner is simply not true”.

“The preferential choice of health professionals in just a few central hospitals for the first vaccinations will have been a strategy of the health ministry to create within the community a reasonable dose of confidence in the vaccination programme, and never a prize for the work of professionals within the SNS health service in the battle against Covid-19”, said the statement, accepting nonetheless that the strategy “could give the opportunity for all SNS health units to be functioning at 100% capacity by the end of this month”.

This may allow for a partial recovery of the “thousands of consultations, exams and surgeries that should have taken place” during 2020. But it won’t be instantaneous – and there appear to be “various imponderables”, says the society.

“No-one can guarantee the number and exact moment of the arrival of (further) vaccines”, it warns. This seems to be borne out by the news two days ago that Portugal is going to receive another 2.2 million doses of the BioNTech/ Pfizer vaccine “but the date of arrival of this additional tranche is not yet known, says the government”.

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