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Spain to keep names of those who refuse COVID vaccine

December 29, 2020

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has said the list would be kept private and fully comply with the law. But Madrid says that it could share the register with other EU countries.

An elderly woman receives one of the first Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines in Spain at the Somontano nursing home on 27 December 2020 in Barbastro, Spain
As in other EU countries, Spain launched its vaccination drive on Sunday. Image: Alvaro Calvo/Getty Images

Spain will create a database of those who refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus and share it with the rest of the EU, the country's health minister has said.

Salvador Illa told La Sexta television on Monday that the list would be private and would be complied in line with the law.

"It is not a document which will be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection," he said in the broadcast interview.

Illa added that the way to defeat the virus was "to vaccinate all of us — the more the better".

"What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partnersof those people who have been offered it and have simply rejected it," he said.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has vowed that any register will not be public, but said it will be shared with other EU countries.Image: Imago Images/Agencia EFE/C. Moya

How open are people in Spain to the vaccine?

The proportion of Spaniards unwilling to take a COVID-19 vaccine has plunged to 28% in December from 47% last month, according to a poll published last month.

The survey by the state-funded CIS research institute found 40.5% of respondents are willing to have the jab while 16.2% would do so if it is shown to be "reliable".

Regional authorities will contact people when it is their turn to be inoculated, the government said on Monday.

The government expects to have between 15 million and 20 million people out of its population of 47 million vaccinated against the virus by June.

Spanish authorities later clarified to Germany's dpa news agency that the idea for the register was only to collect clinical data. Only those who showed up for a vaccine and then rejected it would be registered, they said.

Lidia Navarro, 84, is hugged by a health worker moments before receiving one of the first  vaccines in Spain at the Somontano nursing home on December 27, 2020
Spain has ordered doses of the German-developed BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines for its initial vaccination driveImage: Alvaro Calvo/Getty Images

What is the current situation in Spain?

As in other EU countries, Spain launched its vaccination drive on Sunday. Araceli Hidalgo, a 96-year-old woman from Guadalajara, was the first person in the country to get the jab.

Spain is one of the worst-affected countries in Europe. The government has bought doses of the German-developed BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, although it is not mandatory.

More than 50,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Spain, official figures show, with more than 1.8 million infections registered.

A nationwide curfew is in place on the Spanish mainland between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. that is set to expire in May. Non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and bars, have been closed, and incoming flights from the UK have been severely restricted owing to fears surrounding a new variant of the virus.Only Spanish nationals or legal residents may enter the country by air from Britain.

Pandemic worsens poverty in Spain

jf/rt (AFP, dpa)