First dose for every adult in Flanders by 11 July if coronavirus vaccines are delivered on time says Health Minister

The Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke (Christian democrat) has said that if delivery schedules are respected all adults in Flanders will have been offered a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by 11 July. Mr Beke was speaking in an interview with VRT News’ televised Sunday morning topical discussion programme ‘De zevende dag’. 

The 11 July is the anniversary of the Battle of the Golden Spurs and the official holiday of the Flemish Community.

“This is an important symbolic day, but it is also an important ambition that we have organised ourselves to meet with our vaccination centres.”, Mr Beke said.

The Health Minister went on to say that during the next two weeks up to 140,000 people/week will be vaccinated at the vaccination centres.  

If all goes to plan this will be upscaled to 290,000 vaccinations/week in April. However, given the issues with vaccine supplies it is still very much the question of whether this will be the case. However, if a rate of 290,000 vaccinations/week can be maintained during April, increasing to 500,000 vaccinations/week from May, every Fleming over the age of 18 will have been offered at lease a first dose of coronavirus vaccine by 11 July.

During the interview Mr Beke was keen to stress that this is all dependent on the pharmaceutical companies keeping to the delivery schedules agreed.

While Pfizer is now delivering the agreed quantities of vaccines on time. It is currently a very different story with AstraZeneca and Moderna.  

On Saturday AstraZeneca announced that during the coming three months it might only be able to supply under half the quantity of coronavirus vaccines agreed. Now hope is resting on a first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is expected in April. However, here too it is far from certain whether the delivery date will be met.  

At the start of this year the target was set of given all adults a first dose by September. Two weeks ago, this was moved forward to the end of July. Now Mr Beke says that he hopes that everyone in our region that is over 18 will have been given at least one jab by the Flemish holiday on 11 July. 

Interval between first and second dose

In order to speed up the vaccination process the regional health ministers have decided that the interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccines will be extended to 35 days (5 weeks). Previously a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was administered 21 days after the first dose. Depending on deliveries all Flemings over the age of 65 will have been offered vaccination by the end of April rather than by mid-May, Mr Beke told ‘De zevende dag’. 

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