Spain expected to expand AstraZeneca vaccine use

The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S.

Spain’s top health officials are proposing to broaden the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people up to 65 years old, expanding from a current cap on adults under 55, two sources familiar with the discussions have told The Associated Press.

Officials, who were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly, said central and regional health officials are expected to approve later on Monday the recommendation on the new 18-65 age range by the country’s Public Health Commission.

The decision came after Europe’s drug regulator declared the jab co-developed by the University of Oxford safe and with no obvious links to some recent cases of blood clots across the continent.

The Health Ministry, which hosts the commission, declined to comment and said that an official announcement won’t be made until Monday evening.

Some Spanish regions and doctors had been lobbying the central government to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to both young and old, but that decision had been put on hold when Spain followed other major European countries last week in temporarily halting the use of the shot.

Spain is set to resume administering AstraZeneca doses on Wednesday.

The government has pledged to vaccinate 70% of its adult population —or 33 million of a total population of 47 million— by the end of the summer. So far, only 1.8 million, most of them residents and workers in nursing homes, medical personnel and other essential workers, have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 5 million, including many over 80, are awaiting their second shot.

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