Portugal’s Three-Phase National Covid-19 Vaccination Plan Begins in January: What to Expect

Vaccinations will start in January for vulnerable populations such as people over with 50 with certain health conditions and those residing or working in elderly care facilities.

The vaccination of the Portuguese population against COVID-19 is set to begin in January, with 950,000 people expected to receive it in the first month, reports Público. The plan is available here, so far only in Portuguese.

Related: Portugal Guarantees Enough Covid-19 Vaccines for Its Entire Population — for Free

The inoculation process will be broken down into three phases, with high-risk members of the public being placed in varying priority groups.

Phase One

“The first set of priority groups are people 50 and over with one of the following health conditions: heart failure, coronary disease, kidney failure, and chronic respiratory disease with ventilatory support; these correspond to the pathologies most frequently seen in patients who develop severe cases of covid-19. People residing in elderly care facilities or in long-term care units and employees, and lastly, healthcare professionals directly involved in treating patients,” says Francisco Ramos, the head of the government task force set up the vaccination plan, according to Público.

This group also includes armed forces involved in essential services, but who makes up this group is still to be further determined. 

The government plans to establish 1200 vaccination points throughout the country; during this initial phase, they will all be at centros de saúde (healthcare centers).

Ramos says that health services will be “proactive” in contacting individuals identified as high-risk, using information from healthcare centers. Moreover, since  some Portuguese don’t use their centros de saude, the government plans to set set up an alternative system to reach them as well.  The vaccines will be administered by appointment.

The government also says that it can guarantee the administration of 300,000 vaccines each week during the initial phase.

Phase Two

The second vaccination phase will apply to people 65 and over without pathologies and people 50 to 64 who have diabetes, active malignant neoplasm, kidney disease, liver failure, obesity, and high blood pressure.Ramos says his team estimates that 1.8 million people 65 and over and 900 thousand people with the heath conditions will be vaccinated in this period, according to Público.

Phase Three

The remainder of the population will star getting vaccinated during this phase, although its start date is unclear. Officials also warn that the pace at which the vaccine will be administered is dependent on incoming supplies. In the case that the re-supply of the vaccines is delayed, officials warn that additional priority groups will have to be created. 

It’s unclear how, or whether, the government will vaccinate non-citizens, i.e., legal and illegal residents. The government’s plan says it covers the entire Portuguese population, residing in Portugal, so it appears that residents should be covered. And anecdotal evidence suggests that people who are registered with their centros de saude, regardless of immigration or naturalization status, typically receive the same treatments and vaccinations available to everyone else at the centers. Atlas has reached out to the immigration support network CNAI (Centro Nacional de Apoio a Integração de Migrantes) about the issue but has not received a response in time for publication.

The Portuguese government has invested close to 200 million euros to obtain the 22 million vaccines it says are necessary to provide the required two doses for each member of the population. Earlier this week, the government said that the vaccination of the entire population is likely to last through summer 2021.

Illustration by Bogdan Kamuta

But don’t take your mask off just yet, yeah, people?

Related: Portugal Bans Travel Between Municipalities for 8 of Next 15 Days

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