'Fixed in advance': Belgians can't get out of AstraZeneca vaccination

'Fixed in advance': Belgians can't get out of AstraZeneca vaccination
Credit: Belga

Amid growing concerns over possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Belgium's taskforce made it clear that moving your vaccination appointment to a later date will not change which shot you get.

As news broke that Denmark and a few other countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns of possible blood clots, vaccination centres across Belgium saw an increase in the number of appointments being cancelled by people fearing an AstraZeneca shot.

However, "the type of vaccine you will receive is fixed in advance, so you cannot change the type of vaccine by rescheduling your appointment," Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the taskforce, confirmed to The Brussels Times.

People who were set to receive an AstraZeneca shot and rescheduled their appointment in hopes of getting a different vaccine at a later date, will still be vaccinated with AstraZeneca at their new appointment, according to her.

"Additionally, people who refuse the vaccination altogether, will not be invited again, and will no longer be eligible for vaccination during the campaign," a press release by the taskforce added.

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In the meantime, Italy, France and Germany also announced that they would temporarily suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations, but following an emergency meeting of the Superior Health Council and Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgium continues to follow the EMA's opinion that "the benefits outweigh the risks."

"Pausing our vaccination campaign in this phase would be irresponsible, given the figures now," Vandenbroucke told VRT following the meeting.

While the EMA on Monday afternoon reaffirmed that the vaccine could continue to be administered while the investigation was ongoing, it also announced an extraordinary meeting on Thursday 18 March, to consider whether or not any further actions need to be taken.

If, based on new research data, the Agency does adopt a different position on the vaccine, Belgium will follow that advice, according to a press release by the Superior Health Council.

"It is still too early to say, however, what the exact impact of a changed recommendation on Belgium's strategy would be," Briat of the vaccination taskforce emphasised, adding that it is not yet clear either what this would mean for people who cancelled their appointments out of fear for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We are still waiting for further info, and are looking into what the impact on Belgium's vaccination strategy could be," she said. "But for now, nothing is changing yet."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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