I was looking through some of my old posts recently, particularly with regards to COVID-19 and the first lockdown here in Spain, and realized I hadn’t done an update in a while. Strangely, it’s going on the one year anniversary from when this all started. I had friends visiting from Canada when this all began, and as each day went by more and more activities were suspended in Spain. The first inkling of trouble was that the tickets we had to a futbol match here in Valencia were ultimately cancelled. Thinking nothing of it, we decided to purchase other tickets to see Madrid play, and those too were cancelled. The final nail in the coffin, and the canary in the coalmine as it were, was the cancellation of the yearly Fallas festival here in Valencia.
My friends managed to get out Europe the next day by taking a last minute 6am flight back to Canada. The evening they left Spain announced a state of alarm, locking most of us inside our apartments for over three months, and the rest is mostly history. I was fortunate enough that the situation here in Spain, and Europe in general, improved in August of 2020 to the point where some of us could do a bit of travel (I spent most of that time hiking by myself in the wilderness). But after that everything seemed to clamp down again, and once again here in Valencia we are on a de-facto lockdown (we can still go outside for walks, but bars, restaurants, and cafés are all closed, except for takeaway).
Spain’s ultimate plan is to have over 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer. Based on the current rate of vaccination in the country, that doesn’t seem realistic. But we’re all hoping Spain will pull a rabbit out of a hat and somehow manage to get it all done. Today I read an announcement that the City of Arts and Sciences, a large structure in the park near me, will essentially turn into a field hospital shortly for mass vaccination campaigns. If and when that happens, I imagine (and hope) vaccination rates will pick-up substantially.
Originally the plan was to use all available vaccines, including the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, for older age groups. But it’s recently been decided that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine will only be administered to people under 55 years old. While that’s unfortunate for that older demographic, it potentially means my age bracket will move ahead in the queue by one slot.
If Spain keeps to their original timetable, I’m guessing I’ll receive the vaccine in May or June. But right now logistically we don’t really know how that’s all going to play out. I’m in a strange demographic here in Spain because my visa requires me to hold private health insurance so I don’t burden the public system, but the vaccine isn’t available in the private system, only the public one. Spain isn’t known for making bureaucratic processes easy, so I’m a tad worried my demographic may slip between the cracks on this one. But I’m hopeful Spain figures out an easy way to make sure my name gets added to the list as well.
Israel is pretty close to finishing their vaccination campaign, and some countries like the UAE are making great progress. Once they are done, the vaccines allocated to their countries will effectively spillover into the next countries, increase the amount they receive. I’m hoping with each passing week that this snowball effect accelerates the process all over Europe. Combined with several new vaccine approvals in March, we should hopefully see a huge increase in vaccine administration all across the continent next month.
Ideally on March 2nd here in Valencia the government will start the de-escalation of the de-facto lockdown, probably by opening outdoor terraces again. I have a feeling they may wait another two weeks though, just to bring the numbers down a bit more. But regardless we are hopefully only two to four weeks away from starting to see the very first few steps of the new normality here in Spain.
While I’m anxious to get back to Canada to see my family, at this point there’s no point in going until I’m vaccinated. Given that I have plans in Europe this summer (various hikes and what not – assuming I’m able to), at this point the earliest I’ll likely be back to Canada is the fall. That’ll be going on nearly two years since I was back last time, which still seems crazy to me. My friend Tony left Canada shortly before I did and has been stuck in Thailand this entire time. How odd it’s going to be to re-unite with family and friends again, many of us who haven’t seen each other in years when this is done.
Spring has always been one of my favourite seasons as it signals the rebirth of life after a long, cold, and drawn out winter (especially in Canada). Spring this year will undoubtedly have new meaning, as not only will the flowers bloom and the grass turn green, but life itself will, for many people, began again.