Spain is to set up a registry of its citizens who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and share the results with the European Union, its health minister said on Monday.
The list of Spaniards who refused to be vaccinated after being called on by health authorities would not be shared publically or with employers, Salvador Illa said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster La Sexta.
“What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partners… of those people who have been offered it and have simply rejected it,” he said.
“It is not a document which will be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection.”
Those who refuse to be vaccinated will be noted in the registry as having done so.
While stressing that vaccination against the virus was not compulsory, Illa said that “the best form to defeat the virus is to get all vaccinated, the more the better”.
Vaccination, he added, should be seen as “an act of solidarity toward our loved ones and our citizenship”.
His comments come as the country exceeded more than 50,000 deaths from the virus on Monday. Spain has been one of the countries in Europe worst affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, recording more than 1.8 million cases since the pandemic was declared.
Since December 24, the country saw 24,462 new coronavirus infections and 298 new deaths, according to figures released by the Ministry of Health.
Spain launched its vaccination programme along with the majority of EU member states on Sunday, with the aim of inoculating the country’s most vulnerable and health workers first.
Vaccines are being offered free on the Spanish health service, which is contacting those eligible for the first dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine authorized by the EU’s regulatory body, the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The rollout initially stalled on Monday after a “minor logistically issue” at Pfizer delayed the delivery of vaccine shipments to Spain and seven other European countries.
Aircraft carrying more than 350,000 doses of the vaccine landed at airports in Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria, Valencia and Seville on Tuesday morning.
The left-wing government’s vaccination plan was criticised by the right-wing opposition Partido Popular (PP) for not being “transparent”. José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the mayor of Madrid and a PP spokesman, said on Monday that “a shortage of information” on the vaccine was to blame for a lack of public trust in vaccinating against coronavirus.