BRITISH expats must be registered with the Spanish healthcare system in Valencia to receive the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine.

According to to the Valencia health authorities, without a so-called SIP health card, the jab will not be accessible as part of Spain’s initial rollout, set to start next week.

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ESSENTIAL: Spain’s SIP card

The current policy is to reserve the vaccines for the national health system, which is heading up the vaccination programme.

But health experts have said in areas like Marina Alta on the Costa Blanca, the consequences of Brits and other foreign residents being left out could be ‘serious.’

It would mean a large portion of the population, many of them in at-risk age categories, would go un-vaccinated.

That could put in jeopardy the success of the whole project and make achieving herd immunity much more difficult.

It comes after the Health Ministry set the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population.

Max Meerteens, who runs his own clinic in Benissa, wrote a letter to regional health minister Ana Barcelo, demanding Brits and other foreign residents be included.

“This group make up thousands of people and are in many cases at risk,” he wrote, adding that many doctors work with these patients while also working in the public health sector.

He added: “The private sector is being inundated with requests for vaccines from foreign residents.

“During the 2020 influenza vaccination campaign, we saw how this group were left out due to the policy of reserving vials for people with a SIP card and releasing a minimum and insufficient amount for the private sector.

“To prevent the spread of the virus, it is important to take into account the entire population.

“All of them would pay the cost of the vaccine without a problem but the difficulty is they do not have access as they are not on the public health list.”

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