Thousands of Spaniards in Madrid and across the country turned down their AstraZeneca vaccine appointments following Spain’s pausing of the dose for under-60s. Health chief Antonio Zapatero told the Spanish press that only 10,800 Madrid residents turned up to their AstraZeneca appointment with over 29,000 booked indicating a rejection rate of roughly 63 percent. Vaccine hesitancy continues to grow in Europe as residents hold out for Pfizer and Moderna jabs.
On April 7, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) both held press conferences to calm concerns surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine and its blood clot links.
The EMA said blood clots are a “very rare side effect” and continued to support its rollout across Europe.
But the news unnerved some European countries with Spain pausing the AstraZeneca rollout for under-60s which has had a knock-on effect on vaccine confidence.
The day after the announcement around 63 percent did not turn up for their injections in Madrid.
On Thursday night, only 45 percent confirmed their appointments for Friday.
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Figures suggest that some areas of Spain only had a two percent rejection rate prior to the moves by the Spanish government.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has been trying to ensure the public that the vaccine programme is safe as hesitancy grows.
He said during a press conference: “From a political point of view the decisions will absolutely be made on scientific and technical criteria to guarantee firstly the lives of our people and our country’s public health.
“And to ensure that the country’s vaccination programme is a success.”
In neighbouring Gibraltar, vaccine coverage has almost hit 100 percent as the UK snet over AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to the territory.
Spanish workers who commute to the Rock have also been offered vaccines and have praised the speed at which they have been seen by staff.
In the UK, the MHRA announced it would recommend those under-30 should receive a different vaccine rather than the AstraZeneca one as the country is set to lift more restrictions.