Like other European countries, Portugal created a dose management plan for vaccines. Then, these restricted doses have to be administered in a short period of time to keep its effectiveness. For this reason and to guarantee that the vaccine gets to those who need it the most first, the Government has created a system – vaccination plan – divided into three phases.

Three phases of vaccination
These three phases cover several subgroups of the population and depends largely on the availability of doses- changes were made to this strategy, such as the recent enlargement to the over 80 age group.

Right now, the country is in the first phase, which it has been since 27 December. To summarise, the first phase included health professionals, residents in nursing homes, users of long-term care units and professionals from these institutions to follow users, armed forces professionals, security forces and critical services, as well as people over 50 with associated pathologies such as heart failure, renal insufficiency (TFG<60ml/min), COPD or chronic respiratory disease under ventilator support or long-term oxygen therapy.

More recently, elderly people over 80 were included in this first group, as well as holders of sovereign bodies and senior positions with functions in the framework of the state of emergency. According to the National Health Service (SNS), in this phase, about 950,000 people should be vaccinated.

In the second vaccination phase, it is planned to vaccinate people over 65 and people between 50 and 64 years old with one of the following pathologies: heart failure, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chronic respiratory disease under ventilator support and / or long-term oxygen therapy.

The third phase is reserved for the remaining population residing in Portugal. If the calendar of the previous groups is changed, third and fourth priority groups can be defined at this stage.

What we have to do?
According to the instructions provided in the presentation of the vaccination plan, health authorities will be the ones to identify and contact people in the priority groups. People included in priority groups for the first phase of vaccination against Covid-19 will be contacted by SMS or will receive a call to say whether or not they want to be vaccinated. If they answer yes, a new SMS will be delivered for scheduling with a date, time and place. If there is no phone number, a letter will be sent as a means of contact for scheduling a vaccine.

For people who do not have a family doctor in the health centre it is up to the citizen themselves to contact the health centres, providing a medical declaration from a private or insurance doctor that attests to the need for vaccination. The medical declaration is issued electronically, through the Electronic Medical Prescription, and the patient is informed by SMS.

Health professionals were vaccinated in hospitals, but to the following priority groups, vaccines will predominantly be administered in health centres, with a total of 733 vaccination points across the country, where it is estimated that 40,000 vaccines can be administered per day. For people in nursing homes or care units, vaccines should be given on site. According to DGS, after the vaccination of groups at risk, it is foreseen the expansion of vaccination points, however, it is not yet clear how this enlargement will begin.

Further information is available online about the Covid-19 response in Portugal and the current situation at www.covid19.min-saude.pt there is also a simulator to check when you may receive your vaccine in Portugal which can be found here: https://covid19.min-saude.pt/vacinas/