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COVID-19: Spain steps up vaccination campaign amid fears of Omicron variant


People are lining up for COVID-19 vaccines at vaccination centers across Spain, as authorities step up efforts to vaccinate the small proportion of the population that has yet to be injected.

As Europe experiences a new wave of coronavirus, several regions in Spain have introduced stricter measures for the unvaccinated before the Christmas season, extending the use of the COVID-19 certificate to enter public places such as bars and restaurants.

More than 80% of the Spanish population is already immune, but fears of the Omicron variant have sparked a vaccination campaign in the country.

Since mid-November, nearly 200,000 Spaniards who initially hesitated to be vaccinated have finally taken the plunge.

Young and old are getting vaccinated for the first time.

“I’m 19 and getting my first dose because of the family reunions we’re going to have soon. It’s not that I didn’t need it, it’s that I avoided it and now you can’t do that anymore, “young Marina Sanchez told Euronews.

The vaccination booster campaign follows the wave of new coronavirus cases and growing concerns over the Omicron variant, as cases of the newer variants have been detected in the country.

However, some epidemiologists suggest that inoculation is not the only solution.

“Now we know that the ability of the virus to spread is much higher. It is about three times higher and there is no magic bullet. The vaccine is not the solution. We cannot do everything. forget because we are vaccinated. The situation shows that there is a new epidemic and those who have not received the vaccine must do so now. But at the same time, we must observe other measures, such as wearing the mask, social distancing and indoor ventilation, ”said epidemiologist Ángela Domínguez.

Hospitals are not overcrowded, but doctors are still urging people to stay alert to new strains such as the Omicron variant.

“My recommendation to the public is to pay attention to the advice of scientific institutions. So when we finally see how effective vaccines are, please pay attention. This is not over yet”, warned Dr Javier Garcia Fernandez, president of the Society. of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care.

As new restrictions are imposed to deal with the new wave, the tourism and hospitality sectors fear another disappointing Christmas season, with Omicron potentially making matters worse.

Madrid’s bars and restaurants are already full ahead of the thousands of festive gatherings typical of Spain before Christmas.

Hotel business owners warn they won’t be able to stay afloat if there are new restrictions after a devastating season last year.

“We cannot afford to shut down bars and restaurants again. We have been hit hard. Most businesses are in debt. What we want to send is a positive message and we are taking all steps to ensure that this celebration, which we deserve, does not translate into an increase in cases, “said the director of the Hotel Association of Madrid, Juan José Blardony.

In the past two weeks, Spain has registered almost 100,000 new cases, but it is still far from a high risk of transmission.

This Christmas can be a litmus test for Spain’s strategy against COVID-19.

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euronews Gt

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