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  • @ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Portugal: Fewer Rules, More Vaccines

Updated: Jun 10


Vice-Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo took over the helm of the vaccine rollout in February. (Photo by Lusa)

Most of Portugal is in a state of controlled COVID-19 transmission, said Minister of State and Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva.


Also, on June 8, after only a few days, the age criteria dropped from 45 to 43 to sign up online for a vaccine appointment, according to the Directorate of Health (DGS) (June 8).


However, Portugal prolonged its situation of calamity until June 27, except for four municipalities (concelhos) that are not advancing in the process of leaving confinement. They are Lisbon, Braga, Odemira and Vale de Cambra, according to SIC Noticias (June 9).


Ten municipalities are on alert. They are Albufeira, Alcanena, Arruda dos Vinhos, Cascais, Loulé, Parades de Coura, Santarém, Sesimbra and Sintra.


What does this mean?


According to SIC Noticias (June 9), as of June 14, with the exception of the four non-advancing municipalities:


- Restaurants can open until 1 a.m. with admission possible up to midnight;

- Shops can start operating on their normal schedules;

- Public services can be accessed without a previous appointment;

- Family nature events are limited to 50 percent capacity;

- Companies with more than 150 workers in the same job will have to test them;

- Taxis and TVDs such as Uber can transport passengers in the back seat without limitations, but passengers are not allowed in the front.


Also, on June 9, the limitations on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were relaxed, according to Vice-Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the COVID-19 vaccine program, according to SIC Noticias (June 9). Previously, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not recommended for those 50 years and younger. Now, that restriction holds only for women, not men 18 and older.


The reevaluation of this standard means avoiding the wasting of vaccines, said Gouveia e Melo, who took his position on February 3, the day after his predecessor resigned amidst scandal over jab queue jumping and frustration over a sluggish European vaccine rollout. Previously, he had overlooked the vaccine rollout in the military.


The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had said that there was a “possible link” between the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and a rare blood clotting condition, according to AP (April 20). The condition, thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), was found in women 50 and younger, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommended the unrestricted use of the vaccine.


The EMA recommended that a warning be added to the label. Nevertheless, the EMA reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed the risks, reported AP.


This week, both Portugal and the United Kingdom experienced increases in the number of people younger than 40 hospitalized with COVID-19, according to SIC Noticias and Sky News (June 9).


In Portugal, those 30 and older are expected to be permitted to access the online process on June 20, according to Diario de Noticias.


The online service began at the end of April for those 65 and older.


This week, Portugal expects shipments of a total of 616,000 Moderna, BioNTech Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines, according to SIC Noticias (June 7).


Currently, Pfizer BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca (now called Vaxzevria) vaccines are being administered in Portugal. They are the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. However, in Portugal, the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for those 60 and younger.


The vaccines are two doses, except for Johnson & Johnson, which is one dose.


According to Our World in Data (June 7), 20.1 percent of Portugal’s population has received complete vaccination, and 39.7 percent have received partial immunization.


The following is the link for a vaccine appointment. For English, click on the globe on the upper right:


https://covid19.min-saude.pt/


Date of birth, fiscal number, and patient (utente) number are requested on the Directorate of Health (DGS) form. If you don’t have a patient number, it asks for the identification number of your citizens’ card or passport.


After choosing a location from a dropdown menu, an appointment day is issued online immediately. An SMS follows with a confirmed time.


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