EU on 'destructive path' with vaccine rollout says De Lucy
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The startling revelation is unlikely to improve British/Spanish relations, coming as it does at a time when Madrid is already cracking down ruthlessly on UK expats living in the country following Brexit. And if the allegations are accurate, those refusing to administer injections are in flagrant breach of the rules.
Expats said local officials told them, in the wake of the UK quitting the bloc, they are not entitled to public health cards after Brexit, instead being expected to take out private health insurance.
Speaking to the Telegraph, John McKenzie, 42, who suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, said he had tried on four occasions to register at his local health centre since the start of the vaccine rollout.
He added: “The first time they said they cannot register people on private insurance for the vaccine in the absence of any instruction from the Canarian government.”
On another occasion, Mr McKenzie claimed he was told: “Go away, we don’t vaccinate foreigners.”
He said: “It’s very frightening not being able to have the vaccine when you have health conditions like I do.”
Kate Harmond, from Brighton, who now lives in Lanzarote with her husband, did manage to get her jab – but only after a huge amount of wrangling.
She explained: “We had an appointment, but when we got there they said that we couldn’t have the vaccine as we did not have a public health card.
“Luckily, I had a Spanish friend with me and had photocopies of every single possible document you can imagine to prove we are residents, and we got our jabs.
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“The next thing will be to see if we can get a vaccination certificate for travelling, or whether that will become the next battle.”
Brexpats, which offers help and advice to the estimated 285,000 British expats living in Spain, said it had received numerous complaints from UK citizens who had been told they could not register.
Brexpats spokesman Jim Phillips said: “It’s very inconsistent. Some British residents feel excluded and others have been able to register.
“It’s a problem because the Canary Islands wants to open fully to tourism with 70 per cent of the population vaccinated, and these people being excluded tend to live in key tourism areas.”
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In a note published on the Brits in Spain Facebook community last month, the British Embassy in Madrid said: “We know that some of you are concerned about how you will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain – particularly those of you who don’t receive state healthcare.
“The Spanish government has been very clear that they will provide the vaccine to everyone in Spain as a matter of public health, regardless of nationality or how you access healthcare in Spain.
“If you are already registered for state healthcare you will be contacted by your regional health service to make an appointment when it is your turn to be vaccinated.
“Because Spain operates its health system regionally, the way people access the vaccine will differ depending on where you live.”
With respect to people who not registered for state healthcare, the embassy offered a list of regional websites offering relevant information and in some cases, the option of registering for the vaccine.
The statement added: “The Spanish authorities are asking insurance companies to coordinate with regional health services in order to provide vaccines to their customers.”
The post received a mixed response from members of the group.
Gerry Uiri commented: “I called the Madrid number again today……they knew nothing and told me they were only an information point and could not register me. If anyone finds anything different for Madrid please let me know.”
However, Matt Taylor said: “Registered at our neighbouring town hall as was advised by our local town hall.
“The SIP lady who registered us but told we didn’t need a temporary SIP.
“Both town halls have confirmed this via email correspondence.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the Spanish government to ask for clarification on the situation.
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