40 minutes a jab, Portugal speeds up vaccine process amid delay fears

Oeiras, Portugal, Feb 25 (efe-epa).- Stand in line, get the jab and wait to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction — it takes a total of 40 minutes to get a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at one of Portugal’s most efficient centers.

The rhythm of the vaccination campaign has picked up speed across Portugal in the last week amid fears of new vaccine delivery delays on the horizon, but the municipality of Oeiras on the outskirts of Lisbon is leading the charge.

The Carlos Queiroz sports club, now doubling up as a vaccination center in Oeiras, has become a model of the speed and efficiency the Portuguese government hopes will be widespread from the second quarter of the year.

At the sports club, workers administer 400 doses a day. Patients stand in line, turning up at the correct time to help move the process along quicker.

“It takes a total of 40 minutes to enter, register, go to the booths (for vaccination) and then wait for the necessary recovery time,” Lurdes Costa e Silva, one of the center’s coordinators, told Efe.

Similar to elsewhere in the European Union, Portugal started administering Covid-19 vaccines at the end of December 2020 and since then it has given full vaccination — both doses — to 3% of its population of around nine million.

That figure falls short of expectations at the beginning of the year. Portugal was earmarked to receive some 4.4 million doses of the jab in the first three months of 2021, but shortfalls in deliveries means it will only get 2.5 million by the end of March.

Delays are far from the only hurdle to beset the rollout in the Atlantic nation. Its campaign drew controversy when it transpired that some politicians had skipped the line to get the jab, a revelation that led to the dismissal of the man in charge of the rollout, Francisco Ramos. His successor has promised to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of summer. EFE-EPA


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