María José Sastre, president of the College of Nursing in the Balearics, says that coronavirus vaccination will require a reorganisation of primary care and a reinforcement of personnel. The vaccination programme will raise many issues for primary care.
Health professionals are concerned about yet greater workload in achieving the immunisation of some seventy per cent of the population in just a few months. The double doses required are a further factor for health workers who have been overstretched since March and are exhausted.
Sastre explains that problems aren't likely to arise during the initial stage of the vaccination programme in the first quarter of next year. This will focus on groups who are at the greatest risk. But when the programme is expanded to include the rest of the population, there won't be sufficient personnel. "We have been highly focused on Covid and we have not been attending to other things. The same will happen with the vaccination. It cannot be forgotten that there are large numbers of people with chronic conditions as well as people at risk of social exclusion. They also need attention."
Despite vaccines becoming available, this doesn't automatically mean that the spread of the virus will cease. Consequently, restrictive measures will need to continue. The president of the College of Doctors, José Manuel Valverde, observes that vaccinating a population of over one million people two times is "no trifling matter". The safety of health professionals and of patients will need to be ensured. "You can't have twenty people waiting at the door." The process has to be gradual and there need to be sufficient personnel.
Valverde suggests that mass vaccination, as well as demanding extra effort by health workers who are already at the limit, will cause issues for health centres. Some will not have the space. "The vaccine is different to usual ones. Its transportation and storage require refrigeration, and the two doses will demand planning to ensure that appointments aren't missed."
He adds that there are different vaccines and that these will have different instructions for use. "To begin with, it will be straightforward, but the second phase will be much greater and the third will be huge. It is a major operation."
The regional director-general for public health, Maria Antònia Font, is optimistic that primary care will be well prepared. Vaccination is a task "that is done daily". As to additional personnel, she says that there is no one left to bring in, as the stocks of reserve personnel are empty.