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Teachers and childcare staff won’t be given priority for a booster jab

The Inter-Ministerial Conference of the country’s health ministers has decided that invitations for coronavirus booster jabs will be sent out accord to age and the type of vaccine a person was originally given. The decision comes despite a request from the Flemish Government for teachers to be given priority when it comes to the administration of booster jabs. It was also decided that in time pharmacists and occupational physicians will be able to administer coronavirus vaccines. 

On Friday the Consultative Committee that is made up of representatives of the federal, regional and language community governments decided to speed up the booster vaccination programme. Saturday morning’s meeting was to decide how this can be best done. The health ministers agreed on several measures. 

These include extra capacity at existing vaccination centres and that in time occupation physicians and pharmacists will be able to administer booster jabs. However, the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) told VRT News that a change in the law will be required before this can be done. He believes the necessary change should be on the statute books either just before or just after New Year.

Despite calls from the Flemish Government to give teachers and childcare staff priority for a booster jab as the people they work with (children) haven’t been vaccinated, no such priority will be given.

Instead, invitations for booster jabs will be issued according to a person’s age and which vaccine they were previously given.

Mr Vandebroucke told VRT News that "A booster only has a good effect if it is given two months after a person has been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, four months after vaccination with AstraZeneca and six months after vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna. You shouldn’t do it any later, but also not any earlier either. You should follow this schedule if you want to do it properly, otherwise it’s pointless”. 

Flemish Education Minister disappointed “We’ll do it ourselves then”

The Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) has reacted with disappointment to the health ministers’ decision. Mr Weyts told VRT News that as the Inter-Ministerial Conference of Health Minister has decided not to give priority to teachers and childcare staff for a booster vaccine “We will just have to organise it ourselves through the Flemish Government, if we get the vaccines”. Mr Weyts went on to make the comparison with (health) care staff that are being given priority. 

The Flemish Government had brought the question of giving priority to the administration of booster jabs to teachers and childcare staff to the table at Friday’s meeting of the Consultative Committee. However, a decision on this was entrusted to a meeting of the federal and regional health ministers that took place on Saturday morning. There it was decided to vaccinate based on age and the type of vaccine a person had been given previously.   

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