Brussels residents to be offered jabs while they’re out shopping

From September people that are resident in the Brussels-Capital Region will be offered vaccinations against coronavirus at the entrance to some shops. Mobile vaccination team will be administering jabs at branches of the discount chain Action, the supermarket chain Carrefour, the clothing retailer Primark and the Anderlecht branch of the furniture superstore IKEA. 

The daily ‘De Morgen’ reports that staff working for the regional body responsible for the vaccination campaign will try and convince shoppers that haven’t already done so to get a coronavirus jab. Those that wish to will then be able to get vaccinated straight away inside a vaccination bus that will be parked outside the store.

Currently the vaccination rate in Brussels is far lower than in the rest of Belgium. Just 60% of adults in the capital are fully immunised compared with almost 90% in Flanders. 

In an effort to up the vaccination rate, the regional body that is responsible for the vaccination campaign in Brussels intends to try and convince people that haven’t yet been vaccinated to do so be speaking to them on a one-to-one level. Those that decide to get a jab will be given the Johnson&Johnson vaccine that requires just one dose.

Setting up mobile vaccination centres outside shops in busses is an extension of a scheme launched several months ago under which a fleet of so-called “Vacci-Busses” visit densely populated areas in the capital where vaccination levels are low. This week for example, the Vacci-Busses are (amongst other places) at several locations in Sint-Joost-ten-Node, the Brussels municipality that together with Sint-Jans-Molenbeek has the lowest vaccination rate in the capital.

So far four chains have agreed to cooperated with the scheme and allow a Vacci-Bus to set up shop on their stores’ car parks.

Dominique Michel of the retail federation Comeos told the paper that “In the first instance this is for customers that are unable to get to a vaccination centre. They will be given the chance to get vaccinated”.  

There are of course advantages for the retail sector too. “A higher vaccination rate reduces the chance that non-essential stores will have to close again and it reduces the danger that shop staff will become infected”.  

Antwerp could be next

Although the vaccination rate in Antwerp is considerably higher than in Brussels it is still much lower than the average for Flanders as whole. Mr Michel told ‘De Morgen’ that the project could be expanded to other chains in the Brussels-Capital Region and possibly to stores in other cities such as Antwerp.

“It’s not just in Brussels that there is a problem, there are serious challenges in Antwerp too. So if we’re asked we will organise it there too”. 

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