Vaccination task force coordinator, Vice-Admiral Henrique de Gouveia e Melo, hands over a symbolic military patch to a youngster before he gets his vaccine at the Odivelas Vaccination Centre last weekend Photo: MIGUEL A. LOPES/LUSA

Weekend vaccination drive sees 155,000 teens aged 16-17 receive Covid-19 jab

Around 155,000 youngsters aged 16 and 17 received their first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine last weekend, Portugal’s vaccination task force coordinator announced.

This means that 80% of Portugal’s eligible 16 and 17-year-olds (those who have never been infected with Covid-19 or were infected more than six months ago) have already received a jab.

Last weekend, vaccination centres all over the country welcomed only 16-17-year-olds in a bid to vaccinate as many youngsters as possible before the start of the new school year.

Since Monday, people aged 16 or older can also visit any vaccination centre in Portugal and received a jab as part of a new “open house” system.

Meanwhile, the last two weekends of August will see vaccination centres focus their efforts on the 12-15 age group. According to the latest numbers revealed by the task force on Saturday, over 159,000 youngsters in this age group had already requested a jab – a number which has likely grown significantly since then.

But the weekend vaccination drive was also marked by unpleasant scenes that unfolded outside a vaccination centre on Saturday night in Odivelas, where vaccination task force coordinator vice-admiral Gouveia e Melo was heckled upon his arrival and called an “assassin” by a group of protestors.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, Gouveia e Melo counter-attacked by saying that “denial and obscurantism are the true assassins.

“Over 18,000 people have died (in Portugal) as a result of this pandemic,” he said, adding that his goal was to inform people that this pandemic is “incredibly dangerous”.

The vice-admiral also said he was “filled with hope” after being told by some youngsters that they had made their way through the protestors to receive their jab.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com