Wallonia expands vaccination target groups to speed up rollout

Wallonia expands vaccination target groups to speed up rollout
Credit: Belga

Wallonia has taken several intermediate measures to increase the pace of its coronavirus vaccination rollout by expanding the target groups of phase 1A4, based on advice from the Covid-19 General Delegation, the cell dedicated to fighting the pandemic.

It will now also send invitations to final-year students in the health and care professions likely to aid in this crisis, all staff of family and elderly support services and vaccinators and logistics staff of the centres for the general public, Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale announced on Tuesday.

"We now must speed up the pace, and want to do it at this point, especially in light of the increasing infection rates of the last few days," said Morreale.

The Walloon government decided to immediately send invitations to groups that are included in the next phase set out by the federal government (1B) and who are eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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This would include people at risk in terms of health, who have been recommended by general practitioners who are helping to coordinate the vaccination centres for the general public in Wallonia, as well as the front-line intervention police officers.

These five groups will receive an invitation with a series of time slots for several vaccination centres in Wallonia in the next two weeks.

Morreale announced the Walloon government was in contact with hospitals to work on a plan to provide vaccinations for people with chronic illnesses, as well as for transplant and dialysis patients who are regularly taken to hospital.

So far, over 142,000 people have been vaccinated with the first dose in Wallonia and around 90,000 have received both doses. The vaccinations in of hospital staff and collective institutions for people with disabilities will speed up as of next week, according to Morreale's press release.

Reviewing the Federal strategy

In Brussels, the strategy was also modified after many phase 1A4 invitees did not respond or did not show up at the Heysel vaccination centre.

This weekend, the Brussels health inspectorate invited all police zones and certain day centres, including those for the disabled, to have their staff vaccinated.

"The choice of prioritising police officers and health care providers has been coordinated with the federal task force on vaccination," Inge Neven of the Brussels Health Inspectorate told Bruzz.

Normally, it would only be their turn after all frontline workers, she explained: "But, because we saw that there were still quite a few gaps in the agenda, we are now moving them forward by two weeks."

The Superior Council of Health is expected to decide on whether it will authorise AstraZeneca's vaccine for the over-55s on Tuesday, which could result in the strategy being further amended.

On Wednesday, Belgium’s national, regional and community health ministers are due to meet to discuss the review of the Covid-19 vaccination strategy, taking into consideration the opinions laid out by the Superior Council of Health.

Aside from asking it to reconsider the administration of the AstraZeneca jab for elderly people, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke asked the council to consider the delaying of a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine and to discuss administering a single dose instead of the two for those vaccines for which this strategy has been recommended.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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