Professor Vandermeulen has already received her invitation to go for a vaccination. She will be going to the vaccination centre next week and will be given the AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccine expert told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ that “this is great for me”. Over the past few days there have been calls for only the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to be used when vaccinating frontline health care professionals.
Professor Vandermeulen says that "There is no justification for this. The vaccine is 100% effective against serious illness, hospitalisations and death. This is what we are aiming for”.
But why then do we have such a negative impression of the AstraZeneca vaccine? "This is because of what has been said in the media. Because, for example, it is currently not being given to elderly people. But this is due to us not having any clear data yet and we would like to have data about this. As we get older our immune system works less effectively and as a result it can be that we react less well to vaccines. This is something we also see, for example, with flu. We are currently waiting, but while we are doing so, we can use the vaccine perfectly well on people that are younger”, Professor Vandermeulen explained.
She also has a clear message "If you get the opportunity, get vaccinated. We currently have too few doses to offer a choice (of vaccines). We are currently doing it with what we have”.
Public health officials are currently waiting for results from the UK and the US on the effects of one dose of coronavirus vaccine.
"If more people have had one dose, you will reach the herd immunity we need more quickly. We’ll look at the figures and it could be that the (vaccination) strategy will have to be revised again. If it appears that one dose is sufficient to cover the first few months this is certainly something we must do”.
Professor Vermeulen added that it is logical to wait before giving a second dose as this can offer better immunity.
She took the opportunity to issue a call for richer, developed countries to share vaccines with poor countries in the developing world. Professor Vermeulen said that richer countries all have all ordered far more doses of the various vaccines than they need to vaccinate their populations. It would be a good thing if these surpluses could be used to vaccinate people in the developing world.