Are vaccines mandatory in Spain? According to the law, vaccination in Spain is optional, though not being vaccinated may lead to restrictions on activities, such as schooling or specific jobs. What’s more, there is space in the law for the government to require that certain vaccines be mandatory because of its risk to public health; this law is the Organic Law 4/1981, from the 1 June, in states of alarm.
But what about something as simple as a flu vaccine each winter, or the MMR boosters for school-aged children? Read on for additional information about vaccinations in Spain (all information updated as of March 31, 2021).
Vaccines for children
Children as young as two months can begin their round of vaccinations – and later, boosters – to prevent common childhood diseases such as polio, measles / mumps / rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis and the rotavirus, though there are slight differences in when each is administered and their cost.
You can search for the “calendario de vacunación” according to your autonomous community on the Ministry of Health’s vaccination website. Vaccine costs are typically covered by the region’s health service, so long as they are officially on the calendar; in Madrid, for example, we opted to pay for the meningitis B vaccines out-of-pocket because they were not included in the calendar for our eldest child, born in 2017. When we moved to Andalucía, our youngest received the two vaccine rounds as part of his battery.
While vaccinations are not mandatory, they are highly recommended by the Spanish Association of Pediatricians, especially for young children. When you register a child for school at any level, you may be asked to present a copy of their vaccination record, particularly if the school is private.
Vaccines for adults
Typically speaking, adults will not have to vaccinate regularly unless they get a yearly flu shot, or travel, are exposed to an infectious disease or need a rabies shot. The European Centre for Disease Transmission and Control provides this graphic for vaccination cycles in both children and adults in Spain for reference.
Another example of adult vaccination is in pregnant women: depending on the evolution of the pregnancy, a nurse might suggest administering a seasonal flu shot, particularly if you are in your third trimester during the winter months. Pregnant women are also expected to be vaccinated against tosferina, or pertussis, in week 27 or 28 of the pregnancy.
Travelers may need to contact the nearest Centro de Vacunación Internacional to inquire about necessary medicine or vaccines for overseas trips where one might contract malaria or yellow fever, for example.
Vaccines for travel to Spain
Most travelers to Spain will not need to vaccinate prior to travel to Spain, and as a developed country, there are few health risks for most. The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you have had the normal battery of vaccinations in addition to Hepatitis A and B; babies between 6 and 11 months should get at least one dose of MMR. Remember that access to healthcare in Spain is easy and not expensive.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, your best source of information would be the Spanish Embassy nearest to your place of residence, your country’s embassy in Spain or the Spain Travel Health page. Remember that, at the time of submission on March 31, 2021, travelers must present a negative PCR or LAMP test conducted no earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain.
The COVID-19 vaccine in Spain
As of March 31, 2021, Spain is vaccinating residents of high-risk and high exposure groups with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca doses. Non-national residents are also included in the vaccine plan, which is carried out on a regional level.
It is unclear, at this moment, if a green corridor or a vaccination passport will be required for tourists and non-residents this summer. April will be an important month for vaccinations, as will the expected fourth wave after Easter festivities and holiday periods. As previously stated, the government can, by decree of law, make vaccinations mandatory if it is in the interest of public health.
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