Spain’s vaccine register

Spanish Government to keep a record of people who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and share the data with other countries

Photo by PSOE on Flickr.

— 2 minute read — By Sam Portillo

Regional authorities in Spain will record the names and details of people who are offered COVID-19 vaccination and refuse to take it, the country’s health minister Salvador Illa has said.

The government plan to make the data accessible to other EU countries, as part of a wider data sharing scheme in the bloc. The European Commission proposed a set of measures for cooperation around vaccinations in 2018, should anything like this pandemic happen.

“People who decide not to get vaccinated, which we think is a mistake, are within their rights,” Illa told reporters. Like many across Europe, the Spanish government have attempted to straddle emphasising the importance of mass vaccination in order to turn the tide on the pandemic, while protecting the freedom of individuals’ choice.

A recent poll suggested that 28 percent of people in Spain would refuse the vaccine when offered, still a significant proportion of the country but down from 47 percent in November. “We are going to try to solve doubts,” the health minister said.

Spanish health authorities began administering vulnerable citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on 27th December, and aim to vaccinate 2 million people in the next three months. Other vaccines, such as the one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, could become available at a later date once approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Alongside concerns about the nature of the vaccines, and the speed with which they have been developed and approved, parts of the Spanish public have expressed worry about the existence of a vaccine register, fearing European governments could use it to bar those who choose not to take the jab from basic liberties such as using public transport or eating in a restaurant.

Mr Illa has attempted to assure people that the register will be used with “utmost respect for data protection” and not be made available to the general public or employers. For some, though, the government has already given enough example of why it should not be trusted, and a choice between receiving a vaccination or joining a register is not one they look forward to.