Spain and Portugal are vaccine champions. They focus on the few who are reluctant.

Juan Esteban Marino is a healthy 29 year-old who has resisted the strong recommendation by Spanish health authorities to get his vaccine shot.

Spain and Portugal are vaccine champions. They focus on the few who are reluctant.

He changed his position when he booked a Portugal holiday for the end of the year. There, authorities are clamping down on visitors who have not been vaccinated due to a rise in infections and trying to stop the spread of the omicron variant.

Marino stated Wednesday that he needed the jab in order to leave the country and come back without any inconveniences. He pressed the sterile gauze against the left arm of his left arm, and then rolled his sleeves down.

He said, "With the new variant of the virus and the restrictions that have made it difficult to live a normal life, the vaccine is now mandatory."

Spain and Portugal, both neighboring European Union countries, have seen long lines to get vaccines. These two nations, which despite having the best inoculation rates in the world, are increasing their efforts to reduce the gap for those still not vaccinated. Both countries have reported cases with the omicron variant.

The Wizink Center is a large concert hall that has been transformed into a "vaccine drome" in Madrid. People there have a variety of reasons they didn't get their shots sooner. Many people over 60 lined up for booster shots. Authorities want to make this available to younger groups.

Many, however, are saying that they must prove that they have been vaccinated recently or that they have recovered from COVID-19. This is a change that Marino has seen.

Iris Reichen (61 years old German-Spanish interpreter) said that she was motivated to take her first shot after hearing about the rapidly-spreading variant of omicron , and her personal life having suffered.

She said, "Friends don't invite nonvaccinated people to their private dinners."

A survey conducted by CIS in Spain found that nearly a third of the 1.6million adults still unvaccinated in Spain was still planning to get their shots. Nearly 3% of the polled, or 1 million people if you extrapolate the number to the total population of the country, were still planning to get their shots.

The poll that CIS conducted last month just before mandatory COVID-19 passes was introduced in some Spanish regions showed that resistance was widespread across all political spectrums, but more common among middle-classes with higher education.

A panel of experts who advised Spanish health authorities warned against "false security." The report was leaked Wednesday. Nearly 90% of people in the country are eligible for vaccines. Experts argued that mask-wearing in enclosed areas, as well as common sight on the streets of Spain, is still more effective than other social-distancing measures to prevent contagion.

Authorities in northeastern Catalonia have reopened mass vaccination sites for jabs. They are now allowing walk-ins to appointments, after declaring that health certificates are required to enjoy anything from a meal at a restaurant to a concert.

Carmen Cabezas, Catalan Public Health Secretary, stated that both first and second shots were increasing. Authorities have seen an 81% increase of first vaccine doses in the last week compared to the week before.

Sometimes, the police were called to disperse large crowds that had formed after the closing hours of the vaccination centers.

There were long lines in Lisbon as well. This was the opening of Portugal's largest vaccination centre to date. Authorities tried to encourage the 22% who have not been vaccinated --the lowest rate in Europe--and speed up the distribution of booster shots.

Despite the country having a great vaccination record, the number of cases has been increasing nonstop for the past two months. However, hospitalizations are still far below the alarming levels of previous spikes. Concers were also raised by the outbreak of the Omicron Strain among members of a professional soccer team in Lisbon and a health worker who was in close contact with them.

The Portuguese authorities tightened passenger entry requirements and required masks inside the country's buildings starting Wednesday. This was to indicate that the country had entered a "state-of-calamity."

In enclosed public areas, masks are now required. Individuals must also show proof of their vaccinations. Visitors and patrons are required to take tests at nightclubs, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as sports venues.

We feel more at ease after taking the test. "We don't leave the club wondering, "Do I have COVID?" Sara Lopes (21-year-old shop worker) said this at a Lisbon nightclub, as new requirements went into effect at midnight.

She said, "It can be a bit of hassle to make appointment after appointment at pharmacy, but it is fine."


Alves reported from Lisbon (Portugal). This report was contributed by Joseph Wilson in Barcelona and Alicia Leon, Madrid.

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