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Belgium in Brief: Vaccination Loopholes

Credit: Belga

A recently discovered loophole in Belgium’s vaccination invitation system means that people can see ahead of time which vaccine they will receive.

Although people cannot choose which vaccine they want, anyone who confirms their appointment online after receiving their invitation can see which vaccine they will get.

Currently, three different vaccines are being administered in Belgium: Pfizer’s, Moderna’s and AstraZeneca’s, all with different efficacy rates.

The loophole comes as a surprise to the authorities, they said, but it will not be corrected.

“People who carefully follow the information about vaccination can guess which vaccine they will receive based on their invitation letter,” a spokesperson for the Health and Care Agency said.

The invitation letter will contain a date for the first dose and a date for the second dose.

“If the interval between these two dates is three weeks, you will receive the Pfizer vaccine, at four weeks the Moderna vaccine, at twelve weeks the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he added.

What do you think? Do you have a preference for a particular vaccine?
Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter (Or @maithechini, since she wrote it today).

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Contact professions will reopen on 1 March, minister confirms

Despite the slight rise in Belgium’s daily coronavirus infections, the contact professions will be allowed to reopen on 1 March, according to Federal Minister of the Self-Employed, David Clarinval.

Hairdressers have been open again since Saturday 13 February, and the other non-medical contact professions, including beauticians, nail salons, tattoo artists and massage salons, will reopen from Monday 1 March. Read More.

2. ‘Gigantic problem’: Belgium’s vaccination campaign further delayed

Belgium’s vaccination rollout against the coronavirus has been delayed following the news that two vaccine deliveries will be decreased this week, Flemish health minister Wouter Beke announced on Tuesday.

Both Moderna and AstraZeneca adjusted the number of doses they would deliver at the end of this month, which means people aged over 65 now will not receive their first jabs until 22 or 29 March, instead of earlier in the same month, as was initially planned. Read more.

3. Fabric masks the Belgian government gave pharmacists may be toxic

The 15 million fabric masks given to pharmacists by the Belgian government last summer may be toxic, according to a confidential report from Sciensano, the Belgian Institute for Public Health.

The face masks were manufactured in Asia by the Luxembourg-based company Avrox, and may contain nanoparticles of silver and titanium dioxide that when inhaled could damage the respiratory tract. Read More.

4. Almost 75% of Brussels primary care workers don’t show up for vaccine

Of the 11,000 primary care workers who were invited to be vaccinated in the Brussels-Capital Region, only 3,000 (27%) showed up for their first shot, according to Inge Neven of the Brussels health inspectorate.

Invitations were sent by mail and text message via the federal platform Doclr, but due to the GDPR regulations, the Brussels authorities do not have control over the invitations from the federal notification system. Read More.

5. Van Langenhove has no immunity for Paris trip, says speaker

Dries Van Langenhove, who sits in the federal parliament with Vlaams Belang, may not invoke parliamentary immunity from prosecution over his trip to Paris last weekend, the speaker of the parliament has said.

Van Langenhove was seen in photos and video at the weekend taking part in a demonstration organised by the French right-wing group Génération Identitaire. However at present, there is a ban on all non-essential travel outside Belgium, leaving Van Langenhove open to a fine of €250. Read More.

6. Marc Van Ranst gets AstraZeneca vaccine today

Prominent Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst (55) will receive his first dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, he announced on Twitter.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is “very safe and effective,” Van Ranst stressed, sharing a link explaining the vaccine’s image problem. “That’s why, as a virologist and health worker, I will be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine this afternoon at the vaccination centre in Willebroek,” he tweeted. Read More.

7. Price of petrol reaches highest level in a year

The maximum price of petrol 95 (E10), which will rise at the pump on Thursday morning, will reach its highest level since the end of February last year. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times