Belgium announces new, faster, vaccination strategy

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke and several experts announced Belgium’s new accelerated coronavirus vaccination strategy in the parliamentary committee on Friday.

While the renewed strategy will speed up Belgium’s vaccination plan, Vandenbroucke stressed that the concrete rollout of the vaccinations still depends on the availability of sufficient vaccines.

This acceleration is possible because, from the end of this month, Belgium will have a limited supply of the Moderna vaccine. The fact that a “bonus dose” of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be taken from a vial also helps.

This is the timing for the new strategy:

From the end of January, hospital staff and other healthcare workers will be vaccinated.

From March, people over 65 years old and high-risk patients will be vaccinated, starting with the eldest and working towards the youngest.

In April, people working in an “essential profession” will be vaccinated. Exactly which professions this will concern has not yet been officially decided, but firefighters, police and civil protection services, as well as teachers, were mentioned.

Starting in June, the rest of the general adult population will be vaccinated. If everything goes according to the current planning, the vaccination campaign should be completed by the end of the summer.

If everything goes according to plan and the campaign can end in September, at least 70% of the population should be vaccinated – the threshold that is considered the minimum for herd immunity.

“If this is successful, we can also start vaccinating young people before the summer,” said Vandenbroucke. “Surely this is very good news for the group that was thought to come all the way to the back.”

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The “reign of freedom” is back in sight, according to him. “Thanks to science, thanks to solidarity and thanks to the excellent cooperation with the regions and communities.”

Vaccinations will be carried out seven days a week in the vaccination centres, which are currently in full preparation, announced Dirk Ramaekers, head of the vaccination task force.

“We think we should go for a total of 200 vaccination centres for the whole country,” he said. “Towards September, we should then be able to complete our vaccination campaign.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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