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The Spanish health ministry is clear in its rules: the use of the different Covid-19 vaccines is set by age groups, and the order in the vaccination calendar is based on priority groups.

As an example, the first to receive vaccines in the Spanish state were elderly people living in residences along with medical and care home personnel. Although it is all well set out in the latest version of the document Estrategia de Vacunas - the Spanish Vaccine Strategy - another government ministry, that of defence, led by Margarita Robles, has ignored the instructions.

Pfizer for AstraZeneca

Thus, Robles has made available 19,500 Pfizer shots to the military, although only 2,340 military personnel were assigned this vaccine in the health ministry's plan, according to the digital newspaper Vozpópuli. The only soldiers for whom the Pfizer shots were allocated were those in the armed forces' medical units. 

Given that this vaccine requires two doses, a total of 14,820 Pfizer shots have gone to defence staff who were not entitled to them. If we review current general figures on vaccinations in Spain, without the detailed breakdown, since March 24th, the health ministry has allocated 55,600 vaccines to the armed forces: of these 36,100 were AstraZeneca jabs and 19,500, as already mentioned, were Pfizer.

Now, if the above figures are compared with the statistics on career military and Civil Guard personnel, the number entitled to the Pfizer shot reduces still further, as military medical corps staff are not all in active service. Of the 2,340 people, only 1,596 are working, with another 326 on voluntary leave and 465 in the reserve. This data can be consulted via the Spanish defence  ministry.

The minister Robles has herself admitted a surplus, beyond the health staff going on leave or returning from it, although she reduces the figure of extra Pfizer doses administered to just 971, with the justification that the remainder went to "personnel in the Military Emergency Unit over 55 years old, as well as for [those in] critical places". Neither of these two cases is justified in the Vaccination Strategy.

It should be remembered that the Pfizer vaccine in Spain is specified as being exclusively for administration to health workers, the elderly people in residences, those over 70 years of age and persons with a high degree of dependency. This controversy over the vaccine arithmetic is the second Covid jab scandal to puncture Robles's ministry.

Spain's former chief of defence staff, Miguel Ángel Villarroya, was vaccinated against Covid-19 when it wasn't his turn. Along with him, 370 further members also received shots in the first weeks of 2021 when the first vaccine doses were arriving in Spain and were only being administered in care homes. Villarroya tendered his resignation and left his job. Nevertheless, the minister Robles rewarded him and appointed him a member of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Hermenegild, of the Air Force, and assigned him to Washington.

Cover photo: Spanish defence minister Margarita Robles greets personnel at the Navy's submarine base in Cartagena.

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