Spain has become the first country in Europe to create a register maintained by the government with a list of the names of citizens who have refused the COVD-19 vaccine, a list which will be shared with other European governments. Spain’s Minister of Health Salvador Illa recently announced that the country will be setting up a register of citizens who have refused the COVD-19 vaccine when it was offered to them and the reasons why they refused.1
Although Spain has not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations, the threat of being placed on a list looms over every Spanish citizen when they are contacted by regional authorities that it is their turn to get the vaccine. Should they refuse the vaccine, their name will be added to the list, which will then be shared with other European nations. Illa said that this list will not be accessible by the public or employers but will be maintained in order to keep a record of who was offered the vaccine and refused it.2 Illa stated:
People who are offered a therapy that they refuse for any reason, it will be noted in the register… that there is no error in the system, not to have given this person the possibility of being vaccinated.3
Sharing List of Names of COVID-19 Vaccine Refusers Could Lead to Punitive Sanctions
However, if the stated reason for keeping a list of names of unvaccinated citizens is to simply have a record of those offered the vaccine, why would it be necessary to note who accepted or rejected the vaccine and for what reason? And why would it be necessary to share names of the unvaccinated with other countries?
It also raises concerns about how the list of names could be misused to apply punitive sanctions to the unvaccinated in the future. European news outlet L’Union Sarda speculated:
But the fact that it will be shared with other EU countries may lead to a ban on travel for those who refuse the drug. Not to mention the fact that Spain’s decision could pave the way for similar measures in other European countries.4
This cautionary sentiment was echoed by the deputy director of the Spanish General Council of Nursing, José Luís Cobos, who stated:
The most important thing is to know how the registry will be used. If it’s for public health purposes to better understand COVID, and it’s anonymous, that’s one thing. But if it’s ‘I’m now on the list of the bad people,’ that’s another thing. We don’t think a registry should be used to infringe on liberties, or for employers against people.5
Will Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Be Required to Enter Public Spaces?
There does not appear to be a consensus among Spanish officials as to the purpose of the list and how it will be used. While the United Kingdom’s prime minister for vaccine deployment, Nadim Zahaw, has said COVID-19 vaccinations are voluntary, he has indicated that businesses that are open to the public, such as movie theater, gyms and airlines, may soon require proof of vaccination upon entrance and, to facilitate that, the government was exploring technology that would track vaccine compliance.6
Requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to travel and participate in activities in daily life would become a de facto mandate as people would be punished if they do not get vaccinated. The application of societal sanctions for failing to get one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine would amount to coercion of reluctant citizens to agree to be vaccinated, undermining the ethical principle of voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking.
The head of Spain’s Medicines Agency, María Jesús Lamas, has said that the list would be used “to understand the causes behind declining the vaccination … doubt or rejection.”7
Resorting to compiling a list of citizens who are exercising their right to decline the injection of a new vaccine that has been tested for less than a year,8 and sharing that list with other nations is reminiscent of the fear driven tactics used during the McCarthy era. In the 1950’s, thousands of Americans were placed on a list and charged with being disloyal to the United States, most of the time with little or no evidence. Those people who found their names on the list had their careers and reputations destroyed and many were forced to leave the country under a cloud of suspicion.9 10
It is alarming to think that any country would choose to repeat that dark time in history.
Spain Plans to Give 2.3 Million People COVID-19 Vaccine by End of March
Spain, which has been especially hard hit by the new coronavirus pandemic, is using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved in late December. The vaccine is given in two doses 21 days apart.11 The country plans to vaccinate 2.3 million people over the next 12 weeks.12 As of Jan. 4, 83,000 doses of the vaccine have been given to citizens of Spain.13
Between November and December 2020, the number of citizens in Spain who said they would not agree to be vaccinated dropped from 47 percent to 28 percent.14 It is unclear whether the threat of being placed in a government registry with a list of names of those who have refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and potentially be shut out of society has influenced people’s decision to accept the vaccine.
Illa reiterated that the government of Spain is determination to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to as many citizens as possible He said,
We all see that the best form to defeat the virus is to get all vaccinated, the more, the better,” and being vaccinated should be viewed as “an act of solidarity toward our loved ones and our citizenship.15
Evidence Lacking That COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Infection and Transmission of SARS-CoV-2
Illa, like many other government officials, is assuming that Pfizer/BioNTech’s experimental messenger RNA (mRNA) BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine will do more than prevent moderate to severe COVID-19 disease, but will also block infection and stop transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, in order to prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission of the coronavirus, a vaccine would need to produce antibodies to stop the virus from replicating and there is still insufficient scientific evidence demonstrating that COVID-19 vaccines prevent vaccinated people from being infected with, carrying and spreading the virus to others.16
The clinical trials for Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine only looked at the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, not whether it prevents infection and transmission. While it is believed that the BNT162b2 vaccine may minimize the chance that the recipient would develop serious symptoms of COVID-19, evidence is still lacking that the vaccine will prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and that those vaccinated will not become asymptomatic spreaders of the virus.17 This may help explain the hesitancy some people feel about taking the vaccine.18
In a recent article in The Vaccine Reaction, Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) noted:
In a New Year’s Day interview with Newsweek, Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), reinforced the WHO’s admission that health officials do not know if COVID-19 vaccines prevent infection or if people can spread the virus to others after getting vaccinated. According to U.S. and WHO health officials, vaccinated persons still need to mask and social distance because they could be able to spread the new coronavirus to others without knowing it.19
If COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent infection and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 or only minimally reduce the risk of infection and transmission, the purpose of putting people who refuse the coronavirus vaccine on a government list that is shared with other countries becomes even more questionable.
Click here to view References:
1 Explained: Why Spain will maintain a Covid-19 vaccine deniers registry. Indian Express Dec. 31, 2020.
2 Coronavirus: Spain to keep register of those who refuse Covid vaccine. BBC News Dec. 29, 2020.
4 George L. Spain to keep list of people who refuse COVID vaccine and share it with other nations. American Military News Dec. 29, 2020.
5 Chasmar J. Spain to keep registry of those who refuse COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Times Dec. 29, 2020.
6 Friedman V. Spain Will Keep List of People Who Refuse Vaccinations, Share with Other EU Nations. Breitbart Dec. 29, 2020.
7 Goodman A. Spain will keep a register of those who refuse the coronavirus vaccine. CNN Dec 29, 2020.
8 Solis-Moreira J. How did we develop a COVID-19 vaccine so quickly? Medical News Today Dec. 15, 2020.
9 Red Scare. History June 1, 2010.
10 Fisher BL. Freedom to Dissent and the New Blacklist in America. NVIC Newsletter July 1, 2019.
11 Covid: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for EU states. BBC News Dec. 21, 2020.
12 Jankowicz M. Spain is keeping a list of everyone who refuses a COVID-19 vaccine and will share it with other EU countries. Business Insider Dec 29, 2020.
13 Neumann J. Spain Says 83,000 People Have Received Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine. Bloomberg Jan. 4, 2021.
14 Friedman V. Spain Will Keep List of People Who Refuse Vaccinations, Share with Other EU Nations. Breitbart Dec. 29, 2020.
15 Neale S. Spain to create registry of people who refuse COVID-19 vaccine. Washington Examiner Dec. 28, 2020.
16 Fisher BL. WHO, Fauci Warn COVID-19 Vaccines May Not Prevent Infection and Disease Transmission. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 3, 2020.
17 COVID vaccine: Does Pfizer’s coronavirus shot prevent you from infecting others? MSN Dec. 15, 2020.
18 Saey TH, Lambert J. Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines. Science News Dec. 8, 2020.
19 Fisher BL. WHO, Fauci Warn COVID-19 Vaccines May Not Prevent Infection and Disease Transmission. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 3, 2020.