‘Make sure your details are up to date’ and ‘When called, come to get the vaccine’ – the two key messages being issued this week from health authorities about the local rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
This week, the Costa Blanca People was invited to tour the vaccine facility in Torrevieja where we met with Hipolito Caro, the director of the area’s health service. Sr. Caro was keen to reach out to the international community and urged everyone to ensure their details are up to date so that when it comes to being called for your appointment, you can be reached. Councillor for Foreigners, Gitte Lund Thomsen, offered the advice “If you use the YoSalud system, then it is simple to access and update your details if necessary. The Generalitat Valenciana health department also has an app where you can do the same,” explained Gitte, “If you can’t do this, you can simply go to your health centre with your SIP card and check that your details are up to date.” Gitte explained that people are often reluctant to go to the health centre for administrative matters, fearing that they won’t be welcome. However, the message from the health service now is that it is essential that the system is up to date. Gitte suggested “If people go after 3pm, there are usually less people, and the admin staff will have time to check your details.” If you don’t have a Spanish mobile number, you can give the number of a trusted friend, family member or carer – as long as you are sure that you can have access to the message when it arrives.
All vaccines are administered at the time of receipt, and new stock is arriving constantly and being allocated across the region in line with the regional vaccination calendar. The objective of the Department of Health is the vaccination of 70 percent of the population of the Valencian Community.
When we visited the CMO in Torrevieja (where many of the area’s vaccines are currently being administered), people aged between 60 and 65 were attending appointments. The system is well organised – people join a controlled queue (Local Police and Protección Civil are on site to ensure the physical distance is maintained, to ensure people use the hand gel on arrival and to direct cars to the parking area). Once at the top of the queue, you are directed to a numbered booth. This is where your details are checked and entered into the RNV (a central vaccine register) before proceeding to a cubicle where a nurse administers the vaccine. You then proceed to a waiting area where you must wait for 15 minutes before leaving.
The system is a collaborative effort between the Valencian health authorities and Torrevieja town hall, explained Sr. Caro, saying “The town hall has provided the use of this building, they provide the cleaners who sanitise the building, and the medical staff are from local health centres.” For her part Gitte explained, “It was quite a rush to organise it all as the town hall only had three days notice that Valencia was going to take us up on the offer of using the CMO. It’s the perfect place as it isn’t in use at the moment – the auditorium has a programme of events that we’d have to work around, but we are free to offer the CMO.” The building was kitted out and fitted with the infrastructure necessary to create a controlled flow of people through separate entrances and exits, as well as a clinical room for doses to be prepared as well as a temporary ward which can be used for emergencies or for those who have trypanophobia (fear of needles) and can lie down to be vaccinated which is often less stressful. A medical team is on hand to answer any questions or doubts – for example, if a patient has concerns about the vaccine and their current medication, they can ask the doctor on site.
At the moment at the CMO, Tuesdays and Thursdays are generally for scheduled first dose appointments and Thursday and Friday are for second dose or last minute appointments for vaccines that need to be used. If, for any reason, you miss your appointment, you will be offered another opportunity to be vaccinated. Appointment makers will have a record of people in every age group who have not yet been vaccinated and will reissue appointments when more doses become available. When you receive your text message regarding your appointment, it will include a link to an ‘hoja informativa’ – an information sheet which offers advice and frequently asked questions.
Orihuela Costa has had a total of 2,944 people vaccinated at its Health Center in Campoamor, of which 2,638 have been vaccinated with Pfizer and 286 with Moderna. Some Orihuela Costa residents are being called to other vaccine centres such as the CMO in Torrevieja or Pilar de la Horadada Health Centre.
With the inoculation programme well underway, most of us have gone from not knowing anyone who had been vaccinated locally, to hearing that many people have now received their jabs.
Two such Orihuela Costa residents are Mick Corwell and Dianne Dyson. Mick, aged 65 from Playa Flamenca, received a text message on wife Barbara’s phone for a vaccination slot in Torrevieja in five days time.
Mick said: “People were queuing with social distancing and appointments were checked on your phone at the door. There were several booths and you were shown where to go.”
Mick received his first dose of the Astra-Zeneca jab and was shown to a seat, where he had to wait for 15 minutes to ensure there was no immediate adverse reactions. A week later and he still hasn’t had any side-effects.
Mick added: “I have diabetes and high blood pressure, but no major health complications but I wanted to get the jab so that as soon as we can travel I can go to the UK to see my daughter.”
Dianne, aged 64, had similar, positive experience after receiving a text with both of her appointment dates on.
Dianne said: “The police were present and so you feel very safe and the measures taken and the system put in place are great. They gave me a leaflet about side-effects and what to look out for but I have been fine.”
Unfortunately for Dianne she was not in the area on the date of her second appointment but has had to change her plans.
She explained: “I realised as soon as the message came through that I wasn’t going to be in the area on the date for my second jab in June. I went straight to the medical centre in Cabo Roig, but it simply can’t be changed. I also asked when I went for my first jab and was given the same answer.
“There is no way I am missing that second dose, so I have moved by break back. Being vaccinated is more important.”
Some people, did experience flu like after effects afterwards. Katie, a teacher who had the first dose of Astra Zeneca, said “I was in bed for the weekend and felt very flu-ish. My advice would be to have paracetamol and hot soup at the ready! I felt ok after a few days, but the first day or two wasn’t pleasant.”
The Health Councillor for Orihuela Costa confirmed that all those aged 80 and over have been vaccinated and those aged 73 are currently being called forward.
Elsewhere, readers have had a positive experience of the vaccine process. In Crevillente, Curly told us, “I’ve had the Pfizer jab and didn’t have any side effects. I had it at the Centro Salud Crevellente. The nurses were amazing and I was even seen 15 minutes before my appointment. My second one is already schedule for 28th April.”
Dee Fairclough (63) from Albatera had her jab at Orihuela sports centre and told us, “It’s well organised and someone walks you through everything. A doctor is available for you to ask questions before the jab if you want to allay any fears.
You are not given a card after for proof of jab – it’s just on their system but you can go online afterwards and download a certificate. Parking there is not so good. You CANNOT park in their car park- that has been reserved for ambulances and staff so my advice is to allow time to find parking.”
After vaccination, the advice from the WHO is as follows: “Vaccination protects you from getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. For the first fourteen days after getting a vaccination, you do not have significant levels of protection, then it increases gradually. For a single dose vaccine, immunity will generally occur two weeks after vaccination. For two-dose vaccines, both doses are needed to achieve are required to provide the highest level of best immunity possible.
While a COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. To help keep others safe, continue to maintain at least a 1-metre distance from others, cover a cough or sneeze in your elbow, clean your hands frequently and wear a mask, particularly in enclosed, crowded or poorly ventilated spaces. Always follow guidance from local authorities based on the situation and risk where you live.”
Some people were concerned that they would test positive for Covid after being vaccinated but this is not the case. The WHO said, “The COVID-19 vaccine will not cause a positive test result for a COVID-19 PCR or antigen laboratory test. This is because the tests check for active disease and not whether an individual is immune or not. However, because the COVID-19 vaccine prompts an immune response, it may be possible to test positive in an antibody (serology) test that measures COVID-19 immunity in an individual.”
Once an individual has been vaccinated, they can download a certificate of proof of vaccination by visiting the following website: https://coronavirusregistro.san.gva.es/sipcovid19/vacunascovid