Vice-admiral Gouveia e Melo addressed the matter at the end of a visit to the vaccination device installed at the Europarque congress centre, in Santa Maria da Feira, municipality of the Aveiro district. This centre has been operated by professionals from the local cluster of health centres, municipality employees and a network of volunteers.
After addressing the issue with those responsible for the operation of this structure, which has been distributing an average of 1,600 daily vaccines for a base population of around 140,000 inhabitants, the coordinator did not commit to a specific date to transfer the provisions of the municipal councils to the respective health centers, but classified the future transition as “natural”. “At the end of this process, when it has only residual things, this whole system that was built for massive vaccination starts to return to the normal vaccination process, which is also very robust”, declared Gouveia e Melo.
Recalling that at the height of winter the primary care network of the National Health System already vaccinates "three million people against the flu", the vice admiral defended that the Portuguese health centers are able to continue inoculation against the virus. “Our healthcare system is strong. You've already proved it. In terms of vaccination, it is a robust and very old system. What was at stake [until now] was to massively, urgently and quickly carry out a process with this scale and we were able to do it”, he stressed.
The priority, for now, will be to administer in the next “three or four weeks a million and a half of first doses”, especially in the population from 12 to 17 years of age. “We are vaccinating over 80,000 people a day. At this stage, I would like to be vaccinating 120,000 a day, because we have the capacity to do so, but I am already asking for the collaboration of all Portuguese people in advance, because we are going to need it”, he said.
For Gouveia e Melo, only with this collective availability will it be possible to streamline the present process of mass vaccination. "We still need to finish it so that we can return to our normal lives, including the national vaccination system", he argued, rejecting the hypothesis of witnessing an increase in the number of vaccine refusals, for possible fear of the effects of vaccine in the ranges younger age groups. “In Portugal, denial is residual. We are a people with many centuries of history, who learned to interpret well what the most rational measures are, and vaccination is super-rational. It's what's going to save us, not the other kind of weird ideas that come up too often in the system,” he concluded.