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Who are Belgium’s unvaccinated and what factors play a role?

Some remarkable vaccination figures have been achieved in Belgium, but the take-up is not universal.  Who are Belgium’s unvaccinated and what factors play a role in our vaccination landscape?

Around 28% of Belgium’s population hasn’t yet had the corona vaccine.  Children under 12 are not vaccinated.  We encounter the highest numbers of unvaccinated people among younger age groups. The fact that this was the last group to be offered the vaccine can explain the situation in part. 

In the 16-to-54 age category slightly fewer men than women got vaccinated. This is also the case among 85-year-olds and over but the situation is reversed in the 55-to-64 age category.

Regional differences are great: in Flanders 90% of the population is fully vaccinated, in Wallonia 79%, in German-speaking Belgium 74% but in Brussels only 63%.  Antwerp too has a low take-up rate.

On the whole vaccination rates are lower in the bigger cities.  The five Brussels municipalities with the lowest vaccination rates have high rates of people living in poverty as well as high rates of people of foreign origin.

Other factors are in play too.  “In Brussels there are only 1,000 GPs while 1,400 are needed to provide treatment equal to that in Flanders. Flanders also invested heavily in first line heath care over the past half century” says Jan De Maeseneer, professor general practice medicine at Ghent University.  “This creates greater confidence and a stronger bond between patient and doctor.”

Another challenge is getting the right information to the population at large. “Language is sometimes an issue” says Stefaan Van der Borght, population manager at Antwerp first line care.  “Education levels and poor familiarity with ICT also play a role.”

Antivaxxers are usually divided into two categories: people who are highly educated but who don’t trust conventional medicine and people who believe in conspiracy theories and distrust the authorities.

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