I was in class with a student the other day and she was telling me about one of her kids being sick.
It’s so typical at this time of the year, that we started talking about that and healthcare in Spain, how it works.
(As often happens in my classes, we start talking about random, normal daily life stuff that needs to be addressed in Spanish class because of the language barrier).
It occurred to me to ask what she was doing about the regular check ups (revisiones) and vaccines (vacunas) and if she had a paediatrician (pediatra) who had a record of all the medical history and shots of her kids.
(Side note: I’m not going to start a debate about vaccines here. It’s just for information purposes that I think this topic, whether you are pro or con vaccines, may interest you as it applies to other health related areas, too.)
She said yes to the paediatrician question and no to the central record of her kids’ history, because her private health insurance hadn’t given her until then anything official:
“You know, we have this insurance, and all they gave me was a piece of paper stating that my daughter got X vaccine, but that’s all I have. It’s no official proof of anything and all the records are in their system. What if we change our health insurance?”, she said to me.
And you know what?
That is a very valid question that also concerned me when we first arrived.
My kids were very young and still needed all the health checks and some vaccines to go through.
So I want to share with you what I did to keep all the records in one place (other than my own official, German vaccines booklet).
And this is also what I told her:
First and foremost,
Spanish healthcare is outstanding.
Granted, it’s going through budget cuts and is subject to political whims, but the quality of the care is very good.
That is why you should go to your Centro de Salud and get the regular check ups and vaccines there.
That way, they will have a record, centrally stored, of everything that they have given to your children.
Plus, if you decide to make the public paediatrician your regular one, you will have ALL the records there.
And they are available throughout the system in the city you live in.
Additionally, if you need an official proof of vaccines, the document they give you is official.
Yes, it’s a piece of paper, but it has all the information you need:
- Name of your doctor and medical ID number (número de colegiado)
- Name of the nurse and medical ID number
- Vaccine name
- Lot and expiry date
- Date of administration
It also has an electronic ID or signature.
I also just found out that you can access your own health records (from the moment you start going to the Sanidad Pública) online and with just a Certificado Electrónico.
(I will talk about this topic in another post).
But what happens if you want to keep the private paediatrician you know already?
Well, I would do either one of these things:
- Keep going to him or her, get all the shots there but make sure YOU as parent have an official record of the vaccines as well.
- If they just give you a paper that isn’t valid outside of their insurance system, then get the vaccines in the local Centro de Salud, but keep going to the private doctor for all other matters.
- Switch completely to the public system.
I went for option number three, but mainly because at some point I thought:
“What’s the point of going for coughs and low fevers to one doctor and to the regular check ups and vaccines to the public doctor?”
It was too messy for me, and I still wasn’t sure who I wanted to stay with, anyway.
I believe it was an antibiotic prescription too many for a cold from the private insurance paediatrician that I decided to go for a second opinion to the paediatrician at my local Centro de Salud.
Her approach to a normal head cold convinced me more and I could see that they are as committed to their patients as any other doctor, albeit they have many more patients.
She also answered all my questions and wasn’t rushing me.
I decided to stay in the public system for me and my kids.
Yes, the rotation sometimes is high.
But I have found most the doctors there very competent and nice to the kids.
There are exceptions, don’t get me wrong.
I’m talking in general.
But at least I know they are in good hands.
ETA: Public peadiatricians see kids from 0 to 14 years of age. After the 14 year check-up, children will be assigned to a normal GP. This is not so for private doctors, who can see kids after 14 years of age.