Belgian pharmacist urges healthy groups to hand back flu vaccine

Belgian pharmacist urges healthy groups to hand back flu vaccine
© Belga

An Antwerp pharmacist is urgently calling on healthy buyers of the flu vaccine to return to their dose to ensure there are enough shots for vulnerable patients.

Christel Van Eynde, a pharmacist in the Antwerp district of Deurne, says that several at-risk patients were struggling to get a hold of a vaccine as the coronavirus pandemic heightened residents' concerns over the seasonal flu, causing demand to skyrocket.

"We see a lot of concerned parents of children with serious underlying conditions, advanced diabetes patients and people who have had [Covid-19] and lung damage," failing to obtain a dose of the shot, Van Eynde told VRT.

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"These people have often visited several pharmacists, but without success. They belong to [the priority] risk group and we give them priority but we cannot help everyone."

The pharmacist said that it was at times "heartbreaking" to see at-risk patients walk away without their vaccine, calling on healthy residents who managed to get a hold of a vaccine but are not in a priority group to return it to their pharmacist.

But Van Eynde's comments follow a last-minute decision by health officials to revise this years' vaccination campaign strategy, in a U-turn which saw demographics originally considered as at-risk bumped out of the priority group.

The revision caused confusion among health professionals and costumers, some of whom had already obtained a flu shot in accordance with the previous guidelines.

The changes namely affected 50 to 65 year-olds who, unless they suffer from a chronic illness or fit other criteria, no longer have guaranteed access to a shot during this flu season.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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