Spain will keep a register of people who oppose a Covid-19 vaccine and share the list with other EU countries
- Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said a list of denials would be drawn up
- The vaccine will not be mandatory, but Spain hopes to have 20 million vaccinated by June
- The government's vaccination strategy calls for the investigation of "possible reasons for reluctance".
Spain will set up a register of people who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and share the list with other EU countries, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Monday.
Although vaccines will not be mandatory, Illa said a list of "people who have been offered it and who simply refused it" would be drawn up after a government vaccination schedule called for "possible reasons for reluctance" to be investigated.
Illa told La Sexta television that the register would be shared with European countries "as with other treatments", although employers or members of the public would not have access to it.
Like most of the EU, Spain started delivering the Pfizer / BioNTech sting over the weekend and is hoping to vaccinate nearly half of its 47 million residents by early summer.
A 72-year-old man receives his first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in a Madrid nursing home on Sunday as Spain begins its Covid-19 vaccination program
Spain was hit hard by the pandemic, with almost 1.9 million people infected. The falls have fallen from their fall peak but started to rise again before the Christmas break
A poll published last month found that 28 percent of Spaniards were unwilling to take a Covid-19 vaccine, up from 47 percent in November.
The stat CIS research institute survey found that 40.5 percent of respondents are willing to take the trick, while 16.2 percent would do so if it was found to be "reliable."
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was approved by an EU regulator last week after studies showed it was 95 percent effective.
Illa said the register would include anyone who refused the vaccine "for whatever reason, taking advantage of their legitimate freedom."
"It is not a document that will be published and it is being prepared with the greatest possible respect for privacy," said Illa.
"The way to beat the virus is to vaccinate all of us, or the more the better," he added.
An official vaccination schedule released on December 2 confirmed that the vaccine would be voluntary, but required a refusal register to be kept.
"It is important to record cases of vaccination refusal in the vaccination registry in order to understand the possible reasons for the reluctance in different population groups," the document says.
A woman receives the vaccine at a nursing home in Barbastro on Sunday as Spain began its mass vaccination campaign after an EU regulator approved the Pfizer / BioNTech product
Spain intends to vaccinate up to 20 million people by June, with an initial target of 2.5 million by the end of February.
Araceli Rosario Hidalgo Sanchez, a 96-year-old woman who lives in a nursing home, took the country's historic first push to begin the vaccination program on Sunday.
Monica Tapias, a carer in the same old people's home in Guadalajara, was the second Spanish woman to follow her to receive the vaccine.
"Araceli and Monica are a new step full of hope today," said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Under the EU agreements, Spain is ready to receive enough doses of vaccine to immunize 80 million people – almost double the country's population.
People at increased risk or high exposure to the virus, such as nursing home residents and medical workers, come first.
Additional doses will go to "nearby countries that may need them," the health ministry said earlier this month.
Spain was one of the hardest hit countries in Europe during the pandemic. Covid deaths passed the 50,000 mark on Monday.
While the cases have fallen from their fall peak, they climbed again before the Christmas break, and in total nearly 1.9 million people were infected.