FACEMASKS may no longer be necessary in the Valencia region in September.
Healthcare experts this week revealed that, if the vaccination programme continues as planned and based on evidence from other parts of the world such as the USA, the much-desired herd immunity could be reached just after summer.
Each virus has its own benchmarks to be considered under control, and in the case of the coronavirus, that limit is set at 70% of immunised population.
Once that magic figure has been reached, restrictions can be dropped and things could get back to normal.
And the main – and possibly most desired – change will be the elimination of the obligatory facemask.
Estimates suggest that with 70% of the population of any one country or region immunised against COVID, the replication rate of the virus will be lower than 1, meaning it will eventually disappear.
Although 30% of people would still be susceptible to contract the disease, they would be protected by being surrounded by others whose immune systems can eliminate the virus and prevent its spread.
Current figures show that 23% of residents in the Valencian Community have at least one dose of the jab and 8% have both, including the single-dose Janssen vaccine.
This leaves nearly 2.4 million valencianos and valencianas to be inoculated in order to reach 70%, which estimates predict could happen in 18 weeks’ time from now – just after the end of August.
Furthermore, Public Health department sources suggest that it could happen much sooner, as the Valencian vaccination programme is still not working at its full capacity – but this once again depends on vial availability and delivery on behalf of producers.
The Spanish government insists that the obligation to wear a mask in public will be maintained until herd immunity is officially reached.
However, other voices in the medical and science worlds believe the facemask could be dropped even earlier, with 40% or 50% of the population immunised.
Their argument for this is that the most vulnerable people are the first to be vaccinated, meaning that by the time those lower percentages are reached, COVID would only affect sectors of the population who are not at risk of developing severe complications from the disease.
With the summer looming and bookings already being taken, the Valencian Health department has issued guidelines about what to do in the case of being given a vaccination appointment while away on holiday.
Jab appointments are given by text message and/or phone call, so if the recipient is away or cannot attend for any other reason, they are requested to contact their local health centre and ask to be crossed off the list in order to pass on their slot to the next person.
Once everyone in their group has been vaccinated, they will be contacted and given another appointment at a later date.
Sanitat spokespeople insist that no one will be left without a vaccine due to being away on holiday this summer.
But for the system to work, all residents who are registered with the public health service and have a SIP card need to make sure their contact details are correct.
They can do this by checking and updating their personal information on the regional Sanitat website here: http://www.san.gva.es/web/dgcal/formulario-de-contacto
Users are instructed to scroll down, fill in their SIP card number and other details, and enter their current mobile, landline number and email address before clicking enviar (‘send’).
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