The federal government has agreed to allow pharmacists to administer vaccines against Covid-19, in an attempt to reduce the burden on GPs.
However the GPs themselves are against the idea, and would prefer to be relieved of administrative tasks and be left with more time to carry out core functions like administering medicines.
But health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) convinced his fellow ministers that the measure would not only ease the pressure on GPs, it would also lower the barrier to vaccination to some extent.
Family doctors, however, are not satisfied. Although they have long been pleading for a reduction in the burden of work, they would prefer to hold on to their medical duties and pass off the administrative tasks.
“Requesting tests, creating codes. That’s not a job for general practitioners. We want to get rid of that,” said Marc Moens, honorary chairman of the Belgian Association of Doctors Unions. “That would again give us time for our actual work, which includes vaccination.”
Every profession needs to take care of its own duties, he told the VRT, and doctors are no different.
“It’s crazy that general practitioners are not allowed to give Covid vaccines and pharmacists should be allowed to do that in a space that was not built for it at all,” he said.
Meanwhile the representative organisation for the pharmacist profession came to its members’ defence.
“This is not at all a case of competition where pharmacists want to take away vaccinations from general practitioners,” said chairperson Koen Straetmans.
“It is a question of complementarity. We want to reach more people in this way who would otherwise not be reached. We also see this abroad: if pharmacists are involved, the vaccination rate increases. And that is the goal.”