At the end of the day, the Directorate-General for Health confirms that the criterion is going to be changed and that age becomes a priority criterion. What is possible to do due to the fact that Portugal will receive more vaccines in the next phase than it has hitherto. Thus, it is likely that from April the age groups from 70 to 79 years, from 60 to 69 years will start to be vaccinated, regardless of whether they have serious pathologies or not.
Since the beginning of the vaccination process in December, this is the second time that the criteria defined by the Technical Commission for Vaccination Against Covid-19 have been changed in relation to the age criterion. The first time was in January, after several experts protested that elderly people aged 80 and over were not included in the first phase. The argument used by everyone at the time was that this age group, which recorded 14% of covid-19 mortality in Portugal, would be at greater risk because it was not being protected with vaccination.
The DN questioned the DGS on Wednesday about possible changes to the vaccination plan after the statements of the president of the doctors. Miguel Guimarães defended that the plan had to be simplified and that it was enough to advance for ages, because this way it caught the most vulnerable people by age and also those who have serious pathologies. In the reply sent this afternoon, DGS justifies this change with the argument that “the Vaccination Plan against Covid-19 is dynamic and adaptable to the evolution of scientific knowledge, to the availability and approval of vaccines against Covid-19 in the European Union , and the epidemiological evolution “.
Therefore, and regarding the vaccination strategy to be implemented for this second phase, taking into account an expected increase in the doses of vaccines available, it will be possible to adjust the plan in order to vaccinate the largest number of people in the shortest period of time, so the proposal by the Technical Vaccination Commission (CTV) creates a two-pronged strategy, which will run in parallel: vaccination by age, using the criterion of decreasing age, and vaccination of people with at least one of the pathologies identified for phase two, without age limit.
The DNS also explains to the DN that through this strategy, which was defended and supported in an opinion by the CTV and handed over to the task force coordinator for vaccination, last week, it will be possible to guarantee that the vast majority of the most vulnerable people will be vaccinated and at risk of hospitalization and death from this disease. In this way, it is also contributing to the sustainability of the Health System, both in response to covid-19 and in response to all other diseases.
It should be remembered that in the first vaccination phase, health professionals, home care workers, their residents, other professions considered essential and those over 80 years old were vaccinated. According to the statements of the task force coordinator, Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo, at the parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, on April 11, the priority groups in the first phase should all be vaccinated. From then on, the country, ARS to ARS will be able to proceed to the second phase.
Last week, the president of the Portuguese Association of General and Family Medicine, had also defended the DN that the clinical criteria introduced in the vaccination process was one of the situations that contributed to the slowness of the process. A situation that expects to change from the moment the population begins to be called by age and in decreasing order for vaccination.
Vice-Admiral Gouveia e Melo defended yesterday in the RR / Público interview that if we continued to vaccinate by “small groups” we would accumulate doses in the warehouse. “It is necessary to end vaccination by groups of diseases and move towards vaccination by age. It does not make sense to stay the majority of the population waiting for all groups to be vaccinated”, he justified.
According to what Gouveia e Melo said to deputies on Wednesday, Portugal should receive a total of 35.8 million doses of vaccines, that is 23 million more than was forecast in December. So far, and according to the DGS weekly report on vaccination, there are 494,521 Portuguese with complete vaccination, 5% of the population, and 1,196,971 who have already taken the first dose, 12% of the population.
A process that is being slower than expected, partly due to the lack of vaccines, since companies have not met the deadlines set out in contracts with the European Union, on the other hand due to the invitation process, namely by SMS, which is not working for the older age group.
The World Health Organization criticized even this Thursday EU for the slowness of the vaccination process, which is causing the number of positive cases to continue to increase.
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