Spain plans to collect and share with other European Union nations information about residents who decide not to get vaccinated for Covid-19, the country’s health minister said on Monday.
Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, stressed that vaccination would not be made compulsory, but, he said, a register would be set up that would include all the people who turned down the vaccine after being called up for vaccination by Spain’s public health service.
“Vaccination refusals will be kept in a register,” Mr. Illa said in an interview with La Sexta, a Spanish television channel. “This is not a public document and it will be done with the highest respect of data privacy.”
Mr. Illa said vaccination was voluntary, but “we all see that the best form to defeat the virus is to get all vaccinated, the more the better.” Vaccination, he added, should be considered “an act of solidarity toward our loved ones and our citizenship.”
Mr. Illa’s comments came a day after Spain launched its vaccination program, with the goal of vaccinating 2.5 million people between January and March, all of them within priority health groups, starting out with residents of nursing homes and the health care professionals who care for them. But the vaccination plan has also become a political football. On Monday, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the mayor of Madrid and spokesman of the main opposition Popular Party, blamed the government for “a shortage of information” about the vaccine, which has meant that many people are still reluctant to get it.
The vaccination plan should be “an exercise in transparency, not propaganda,” Mr. Martínez-Almeida said in an interview with Spanish national radio.