Spanish officials on fire for Covid-19 vaccine jump queue

A steady drop in the number of civil servants who admit to having been vaccinated before priority groups has caused a stir on social media in Spain at a time when several regions are tightening restrictions in an attempt to curb infections.

Several local mayors admitted to having been vaccinated before their turn, while the regional health service for Ceuta’s exclave was heavily criticized both for being vaccinated early and for saying he had done so under pressure from his staff.

“I did not want to. I do not even get the flu vaccine. I do not like vaccinations,” said Javier Guerrero of the opposition Conservative People’s Party.

One Twitter user hoped that it would at least encourage citizens to get a shot: “The reluctant citizen will see that if politicians register first and break all the rules, it must be something very good,” wrote @Juanmalucky.

Some demanded that those who could not wait their turn should resign.

“The villains who have vaccinated themselves by jumping in line using their privileged position as public servants (more and more are showing up every day) must, of course, all resign,” tweeted far-left Unidas Podemos spokesman Pablo Echenique.

Rising infections

Defense Secretary Margarita Robles asked General Miguel Angel Villaroya, Chief of Defense Staff, for explanations after El Mundo newspaper and the Europa Press Agency reported that he and other senior military officials had already been vaccinated.

Villaroya has not publicly confirmed whether he has been vaccinated. He could not be reached for comment on Friday.

National infection levels have risen since the end of December, with 42,885 new cases added to the mood on Friday. The 14-day incidence of the virus rose to a record 829 cases per 100,000 people, while 400 deaths were reported.

But the Ministry of Health has let regional authorities set their own rules within national guidelines, which creates a confusing patchwork of various measures to stop the spread of the virus.

Madrid kept its curfew until 22.00 and limited group meetings to four people, while the island of Ibiza closed its borders to unnecessary traffic. In sparsely populated Extremadura, with Spain’s highest incidence of nearly 1,450 cases per 100,000 people, troops began transforming a conference center into a makeshift field hospital.

In Madrid, some 50 medical staff outside La Paz Hospital protested against being fired from their regular jobs to staff a hospital built for COVID-19 patients. Trade unions say this is a costly drain on resources from the rest of the health care system.

“It is completely unnecessary … We have old hospitals that could have been renovated,” said Marco Portillo, a nurse and union organizer at the protest.