Health Minister announces that vaccination programme is to be speeded up

The Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) has told the Federal Parliament that the coronavirus vaccination programme is to be speeded up. From the end of this month the vaccination of health care professionals will commence. The vaccination of the over 65s and people with underlying complaints that put them at a high risk if they become infected with coronavirus will get under way in March. 

The rest of the population will be able to get vaccinated from June. In order to facilitate the mass vaccination programme 200 vaccination centres will be opened across the country. The aim is that all those that wish to will have been vaccinated by the end of September.

The vaccination programme in care homes got under way this week. However, there has been criticism that things weren’t moving quickly enough. The Federal Government urged the Vaccination Task Force to draw up a plan to speed up the vaccination programme. On Friday morning the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke and the experts from the Vaccination Task Force presented the revised vaccination programme plan to the Health Select Committee of the Federal Parliament.

Although the order with which given groups within the population are to be vaccinated has been maintained the speed with which this is to be done has been increased. From the end of this month those working in hospitals will be vaccinated and others in frontline medical care such as GPs will be vaccinated from February.

The vaccination programme can be speeded up as from the end of this month Belgium will have a quantity of vaccines available from the American biotech company Moderna. Furthermore, it also helps that one bottle of the Pfizer vaccine is enough for 6 doses rather than 5 doses as the manufacturer had advised. In addition to this it is hoped that from February the AstraZeneca vaccine that is currently being used in the UK will be available in Belgium. 

Over 65’s from March

From March it will be the turn of the over 65s and people with underlying complaints that put them at a greater risk than others if they become infected with coronavirus. This will no longer be done through the hospitals, but at 200 vaccination centres that will be opened at locations across the country.

From April those working in what are described as “essential professions” will be vaccinated. However, it still needs to be decided which professions will be considered to be “essential”. It is likely that they will included police officers, fire fighters, etc. Some have said that teachers might also be included in this group.

The rest of the population can expect to be vaccinated from June. The aim is to have 70% of people in Belgium vaccinated by the end of September. 70% is consider a minimum if we are to achieve herd immunity.  

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