Portugal has nearly run out of people to vaccinate What comes next

LISBON — Portugal’s vaccination campaign is almost over now, and it has exceeded even the wildest goals. Nearly an entire nation trusted in the science, officials say. At mass immunization centers, just the last trickle of teenagers is passing through. Some 85 percent of Portugal’s population is fully vaccinated — aside from tiny Gibraltar, the highest rate in the world.“We have actually run out of adults to give shots to,” said Lurdes Costa e Silva, the chief nurse at a Lisbon vaccine center that is already half-shuttered. Portugal’s feat has turned the country into a cutting-edge pandemic laboratory — a place where otherwise-hypothetical questions about the coronavirus endgame can begin to play out. Chief among them is how fully a nation can bring the virus under control when vaccination rates are about as high as they can go. The emerging answer is promising — mostly. In Portugal, every indicator of pandemic severity is quickly trending downward. The death rate is half the European Union average and nine times below that of the United States. Lisbon is triumphant: a city of live music and partying, where early-risers might find sidewalks still sticky with beer. Traffic is back to normal as people settle into the rhythms of commuting to work. And the celebrity of the moment — on glossy magazine covers — is the former submarine commander who led the country’s vaccination drive. But Portugal’s experience is also providing a note of caution: a reminder that 1½ years into this pandemic, the current tools of science still might not be enough. The virus is still causing cancellations, lost work days and sickness — in rare cases severe. It spreads less quickly and less far than it would in places with lower vaccination rates — which benefits everyone, including the 12-and-under children not yet eligible for shots. But herd immunity remains elusive. Daily calculations about risk remain, even without large ranks of unvaccinated people to blame.“We have achieved a good result, but it’s not the solution or miracle one would think,” Portugal’s health minister, Marta Temido, said in an interview. The prime minister this week is set to reopen nightclubs and lift the mandatory 2 a.m. closing time for bars, on the path to what he calls “total freedom.” In reality, though, some precautions will remain. Mask-wearing indoors will still be mandatory in some indoor situations. Digital health certificates will continue to be necessary for travel and events with crowds. Perhaps the most telling sign of Portugal’s lingering unease is this: Many health officials are still worried about a winter wave, and a rise in hospitalizations. And they are still worried about the vulnerability of the elderly to the ravages of the virus. In Portugal, seniors are vaccinated at a level verging on the statistically impossible: Official data puts the rate at 100 percent.

All data is taken from the source: http://washingtonpost.com
Article Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/30/portugal-vaccination-covid/

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