It is another group that needs to be added to the already long list of priority groups for vaccination against Covid-19. School teachers, employees and specialists for social assistance (such as day-care centers and day-care centers) were included in the first and second phases of the current vaccination campaign, as well as security forces, the military and the fire service. And, as previously announced, people with trisomy 21 went into the first phase.
The news was published by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) in the statement reporting the update of the standard for the vaccine against AstraZeneca – which is now recommended with no age limit, hence also over 65 years of age. “As part of the resilience of the state, teachers and non-teachers from educational and training institutions as well as social measures to support children in the public, private, social and cooperative sectors are also implemented vaccinated in accordance with the applicable logistics plan. ”, List of the DGS. The priority group standard has also been updated to include this new group.
The vaccination “of teachers and assistants in preschool and in the first public and private education” should take place between the end of March and the beginning of April, “the Ministry of Health later said. This new group, he explained,” goes with the increased resilience of the state ” , for which it is reserved in Phase 1 of the “10%” schedule of total doses to be administered – the other 90% is for “saving lives” (in addition to health professionals over 80) and patients at highest risk between years 50 and 79 years).
The PUBLIC knows that a test will be carried out beforehand with teachers and assistants and that this new group will be vaccinated with vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, as the vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna are mainly reserved for people from the EU 80 who are being vaccinated at high speed to to achieve the target recommended by the European Commission – at least 80% of older people should be vaccinated with the first dose by the end of this month.
Currently, Portugal is still grappling with the vaccine shortage problem, but around 600,000 doses will arrive in the final days of March, a package that will allow this new group to be vaccinated without delaying vaccination of the elderly and the most at risk patients. In any case, the vaccination of teachers, staff and social aid professionals will continue in the second phase of the plan, which will include everyone over the age of 65 as well as very large groups such as diabetics, hypertensive patients and obese people.
Schools are sending out lists of teachers and staff, and in the area of social reactions, interviewing professionals to be vaccinated only started this week. On Monday, the Institute for Social Security (ISS) “sent an email to all the institutions in the solidarity and profit sector that are developing the social responses. The ISS states that this information will then be passed on to the task force “in order to plan the possible groups to be considered for vaccination”.
Will vaccination be delayed with this intake?
Ultimately, how many new professionals should be vaccinated? According to the latest data from the National Education Council (2019), there are 146,992 teachers and 70,310 non-teachers in the public and private sectors. Then there are the experts in social responses. So it is a very large group that is now joining the security, military and fire service group. And that they need to be vaccinated at the same time as the elderly and the patients at greatest risk for Covid-19 between 50 and 79 years of age, although their immunization extends to the second phase of the plan.
Won’t this inclusion delay vaccination of the most vulnerable groups? Directorate-General Health’s coordinator of the Vaccination Technical Commission, Valter Fonseca, believes this is not the case. “The planning will be based on the availability of the vaccines and an increase in the dose is expected soon so that these adjustments do not jeopardize the defined goals,” he assured the PUBLIC, adding that the logistical plan for the operationalization of this measure falls within the responsibility of the task force.
It was not the DGS covid-19 technical commission for vaccinations that suggested the involvement of teachers. The experts consider age, pathologies and risk exposure for their recommendations, regardless of whether or not there is an increased risk of serious illness or death, explains Manuel Carmo Gomes, who is part of this committee and fears that this new group will imply a delay in vaccinating the most vulnerable, unless vaccines are about to ramp up rapidly. “Then the problem is gone,” he admits.
The now updated standard also includes students from the final year of the medical and nursing courses. It was also expressly defined that when selecting people to be vaccinated in groups of 50 or more people with a higher risk and aged 80 and over, “the priority criterion according to age groups” and “if clinically justified, the clinical severity of defined comorbidities” .
The task force coordinator, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, believed that if the expected delivery of vaccines did not fail again, it would be possible to “achieve the goals”. On the sidelines of a ceremony for the delivery of vehicles for mobile vaccination by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, he said that “there will be enough vaccines to carry out an all-needs attack and not an alternate attack.” Mostly because he reminded us that we should have “nine million” in the second quarter when “2.3 or 2.4 million vaccines” arrive by the end of March.
For Health Minister Diogo Serra Lopes, this is the time to “reflect on the consequences and problems that go beyond the specific risks of comorbidities” as the first phase set in the plan should be completed “very soon after the end of the first quarter” . The government official welcomed the inclusion of school staff in the priorities on the assumption that this decision cannot be separated from the decontamination plan, which should be known this Thursday. with Patrícia Carvalho