Just one week into Flanders' autumn vaccination campaign against Covid-19, nearly 400,000 people have already received their autumn booster dose and more than half of the adult population has already received an invitation.
So far, more than two in three over-65s have already been vaccinated or made an appointment, just like two in three of those with weakened immunity. Nearly 800,000 more doses will be administered before the end of October, according to figures by Flemish Health Minister Hilde Crevits.
"The vaccination centres with the many employees and volunteers have now been back to work for a week. After one week, the response rate is good," Crevits said in a press release. "That way we can fully protect people against a potential autumn wave in the coming weeks."
All together, about 4.5 million citizens will have the chance to be vaccinated before the beginning of November, she said, pointing out that the vaccines used in the campaign are the recently-approved ones adapted to the Omicron strain of the virus.
Belgium's health ministers agreed that, whenever new vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the authorities will always switch to the newest ones as soon as possible.
"That switch to the latest vaccines has happened," Crevits said. "This week, the even newer vaccines adapted to the BA.4 and BA.5 variants also received approval from EMA. These can be delivered from the beginning of October. From then on, we will switch to those vaccines."
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In the meantime, virologist Steven Van Gucht has warned that a new peak of Covid-19 infections this autumn is a certainty. That is why it is important to keep people's immunity at a high level "at strategic times" such as autumn, he told The Brussels Times at the start of September.
"I would much rather see a good booster campaign and perhaps some general recommendations – wear a mask on public transport, get tested and stay at home when ill – than have to resort to stricter measures such as the ones we have had in the past," he said.
More information about the use of a fourth vaccine dose can be found here.