Nicolas Maeterlinck

Booster interval slashed to 4 months after Pfizer or Moderna

Belgian health ministers have decided that people who were vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna (two shots) will be able to get a booster after 4 months instead of 6.  The ministers are acting on the advice of the Vaccination Taskforce.

Invites for vaccinations will now be sent out.  The switch is intended to offer the population greater protection now omicron is in the land.

There has been rising demand in recent weeks for the period between the second and third jab of Moderna or Pfizer and the booster to be shortened. Omicron variant is spreading rapidly now, and research shows that a third jab offers greater protection against omicron.

Earlier yesterday the High Council for Health also threw its weight behind a shortening of the lapse of time. In practice people will be boosted around 4 and a half months after their second jab.  For people who got AstraZeneca or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) nothing changes.  There the lapse of time is already four and two months respectively.

Belgian health minister Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) said that the overwhelming majority of adults will have received the invite for the booster before January is out.  A further 1.1 million invites will be sent out in February: “This concerns people who only recently got jabbed.  You need to wait at least four months before the booster is administered.  Otherwise, the long-term effect isn’t good” said Vandenbroucke.

Mr Vandenbroucke believes supplies will suffice, but he has called on medicine students, nurses, care workers, even speech therapists, lab technicians and ambulancemen and women with at least two years’ experience who may conduct tests and administer jabs under supervision to help out.

The government is even increasing the length of time students may work.  The 475-hour maximum rule for students is being abandoned to ease pressure on doctors and nurses.

For Flemish health minister Beke (Christian democrat) getting the overwhelming majority of Flemish adults boosted by the end of January is the goal.

“At present 2.4 million people in Flanders have received the booster or have been invited.  This needs to be repeated in January”.

If over 4 months have passed since your second Pfizer or Moderna jab, you can also register on Qvax the vaccination reserve list, used to ensure no vaccines are wasted.  If vaccines become available through e.g., no-shows these are then offered to people on the list. The list will also be used over Christmas to speed matters up.

“Vaccination centres will use Qvax between Christmas and New Year to invite extra people” says Beke.  “Invites will also be sent by post, but that will take more time”.

“Several vaccination centres were planned to close during the holiday because everybody who qualified had been jabbed.  Now they will be able to invite more people.”

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