Two months after the start of a government campaign to guard against nuclear risks, the government has already handed out half a million packs of iodine tablets, according to figures from the Crisis Centre. The measure allows everyone in Belgium to pick up a pack of tablets of potassium iodide for free from any pharmacy. The tablets are intended to protect against the effects of nuclear radiation following a leak from one of the country’s nuclear power stations. But the free tablets are not restricted to people living in the vicinity of stations in Doel or Tihange, nor the nuclear research centre in Mol.
The pills must only be taken, however, when an instruction is issued by the federal home affairs ministry, the pharmacists’ union advised. Home affairs minister Jan Jambon promised parliament that warnings would be issued in plenty of time; the pills take three hours to begin having a protective effect.
“These positive results two months after the start of the campaign show the importance of informing everyone about the risks and the correct protective measures,” the Crisis Centre said in a statement.
Among those making use of the offer were 183,178 individuals and 2,851 schools and companies. The free pills are being advertised by 973,400 brochures distributed in pharmacies, social media and information sessions.