Spanish get vaccinated against COVID-19. | RANEEN SAWAFTA


Spain has decided to extend AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccination to essential workers over 65 years old to protect a small group of people who have not yet retired, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

A number of other European countries have gone further and lifted the age limit altogether, or, like in Germany, are now giving the AstraZeneca vaccine primarily to older people.

The age cap had been imposed because early clinical trials had featured very few people 65 or older.

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Spain was so far using the AstraZeneca only for people aged 18-65 years, focusing on essential workers such as police, firefighters or teachers.

But that meant a small number of essential workers over 65 were left out of the vaccination effort, the ministry said, clarifying the impact of a decision announced late on Tuesday.

After first inoculating elderly nursing-home residents and their carers and frontline health workers, Spain is now giving shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to people over 80, with those aged over 70 next in line.

The country has administered 7.7 million doses and fully inoculated 2.64 million people and aims to have 70% of its 47 million population vaccinated by the end of summer.