People in Belgium who received their first dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine before 12 May will be able to get their second dose earlier than initially planned, as the company delivered the 700,000 promised doses on Wednesday.
A decision by Belgium's Health Ministers to shorten the interval between two AstraZeneca doses from 12 to eight weeks, will now come into effect for those who received their first AstraZeneca shot before 12 May.
"For the people who had their first dose before 12 May, the interval remained at 12 weeks. But now, we can also shorten it to eight weeks for them," Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Vaccination Taskforce, told The Brussels Times.
In total, it concerns about 800,000 people who were still on the 12-week schedule, but can now be vaccinated four weeks earlier, according to her.
"However, that number also includes people who will get their second shot in early July," Briat said. "If they are scheduled for their second dose next week, it is not really worth it to bring forward the date by a day or two."
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It mainly concerns high-risk patients over 65 years old, who had been given priority in Belgium's vaccination campaign, according to a press release by the taskforce.
"They can now be optimally protected up to four weeks earlier, which is crucial with the advancing Delta variant," the release reads. "After two doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, protection against severe Covid-19 is more than 90%."
Additionally, while all those 800,000 people could now move up their second appointment if they wanted, they are not obliged to and can also opt to keep their old date.
"In theory, they can all move up their second appointment, but for those people whose turn it is in July, they will not gain very much," Briat added.
How to move up your second AstraZeneca vaccine shot?
If you initially had to wait 12 weeks for the second shot with the AstraZeneca vaccine, bringing your second vaccination forward by up to four weeks works differently depending on the Region that you live in.
You live in the Brussels-Capital Region:
The people who are eligible to get their second shot more than one week earlier than initially planned already received a text message, according to the Vaccination Taskforce.
They can move their second appointment by calling the call centre on 02 214 19 19.
You live in Flanders: from tomorrow/1 July
To be able to make an appointment for an early second dose, your vaccination centre has to have an available slot.
According to the Taskforce, this will be the case for most centres as early as next week, but it will depend on the personnel and vaccination planning in each centre, so it could take a bit longer.
From 1 July, you can check whether there are times available next week or later, via the confirmation e-mail of your appointment for the second dose after 12 weeks.
More info can be found at www.laatjevaccineren.be/tweede-dosis-astrazeneca-vervroegen. If a free slot is not immediately available, try again a few days later.
People are asked to reschedule their second dose appointments themselves as much as possible, so as not to overburden the helpdesks at the centres.
If they cannot do it themselves, they can call the helpdesk of their local vaccination centre starting from Thursday.
You live in Wallonia: from Friday 2 July
Depending on the available times and vaccines in the vaccination centres, people who want to bring forward their second AstraZeneca dose to eight weeks can change the date of their second appointment.
To do so, they must go to the same centre as they went to for the first shot. The vast majority of vaccination centres in Wallonia will be ready to start rescheduling from Friday.
You can change this date via the confirmation e-mail of your appointment for the second dose after 12 weeks. Click on 'cancel appointment' at the bottom.
This will cancel your old second appointment, and allow you to book a new one between eight and 12 weeks after the first injection.
If you need help to move your second appointment, you can call the free vaccination call centre in Wallonia (0800/45.019).