Spain expands booster shot programme as COVID-19 cases rise

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An elderly man receives the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech "Comirnaty" vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a vaccination rollout for elderly residents at a nursing home in Seville, Spain September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

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MADRID, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Spain is now offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to people aged 60 and over, expanding the booster shot programme from the previous age threshold of 70 as infections rise, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday.

Spain has fully vaccinated 79% of its population, and started the campaign to administer booster shots last month, including for cancer patients, nursing home residents and other vulnerable groups.

"The meeting of the vaccines panel has just ended, and it has been agreed that a third dose of vaccination will be given to health and social-health professionals and for people over 60 years of age," Sanchez told reporters during a visit to Turkey.

The country's infection rate, as measured over the preceding 14 days, has been rising steadily since late October. It rose to 96 per 100,000 on Wednesday from about 89 on Tuesday, though remains well below levels in some countries like Austria, with over 1,400 cases per 100,000, or the Netherlands with over 900.

Spain reported 6,667 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,067,712 since the pandemic began, while the number of deaths rose by 30 to an overall 87,775.

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Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Andrei Khalip, edited by Belén Carreño and Pravin Char

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