From 1 March, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) of some 220,000 adults in the Brussels-Capital Region will no longer be valid if they do not receive a booster vaccination dose.
The validity of adults' primary vaccination certificates - without booster dose - in the CST will be reduced from 270 days (nine months) to 150 days (five months) from March, the Consultative Committee announced last week.
"In Brussels, this results in roughly 220,000 adults who currently still have a valid CST, but who will fall without one from 1 March, due to the shortening of that duration," said the head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate Inge Neven during a press briefing on Tuesday.
It concerns all adults who were vaccinated before 1 October with one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. "They must have had a booster shot before 1 March, so we are calling on everyone who is eligible for a booster dose to go and get it. There is no time limit on the validity of the booster dose (yet)."
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This week, all vaccination points in the Capital-Region will be open for vaccinations without an appointment, with the aim to speed up the booster campaign. There is still a capacity of 75,000 vaccines per week.
Additionally, the validity of the recovery certificate has also been reduced from nine months to five months after infection, Neven added. "This means that those who do not want a booster dose because they recently recovered from an infection and believe that their immune system does not need the extra vaccine should still go get their third shot, as their CST will also no longer be valid this summer."
In any case, a booster dose will offer people better protection against the coronavirus, even after they have recently contracted Covid-19, Neven stressed. "It is best to wait two weeks after the last symptoms to get the booster."
No changes for minors (yet)
For now, this only applies to adults, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) still has to issue an opinion on a booster dose for under-18s. The Vaccination Taskforce is expecting the advice by the end of January, and the Belgian authorities will likely give the official approval very quickly, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said last week.
As of Tuesday 25 January, 53% of all vaccinated people over the age of 18 in Brussels already received their booster dose, said Neven. This is equivalent to 39% of the entire - vaccinated and unvaccinated - adult population, and is considerably lower than in Flanders (78%) and Wallonia (60%).