Belgium in Brief: Teenage booster indecision threatens February skiing

Belgium in Brief: Teenage booster indecision threatens February skiing
Credit: Canva

Since being implemented at the end of 2021, Belgium’s booster vaccination programme has successfully seen 70% of the adult population receive an additional dose. Despite the need for a third dose doing little to quell the discontent of “anti-vaxxers” who fear that they will need to keep on renewing their vaccines with supplementary doses, the booster dose has been largely accepted.

However, it does raise tricky questions with regard to the validity of vaccine passes (Covid Safe Tickets in Belgium but different countries have different names). What had been a fairly straightforward matter before the introduction of booster doses – ie. are you fully vaccinated or not? – has become less clear-cut as initial vaccine doses now “expire” for the purposes of vaccination passes.

For adults willing to get the booster shot, this doesn’t pose too great a problem – the extra dose brings you in line with certificate requirements throughout Europe. But for teenagers, there is now a serious barrier since the booster has yet to be approved for their age group. In practice, this means that thousands of teens may not be able to travel to some popular ski destinations, such as Austria and Italy, because they fall short of the vaccine requirements in these countries.

The European Medicines Agency has been dragging its heels on a decision for weeks, and Belgian health ministers are reluctant to issue their own approval in advance. The result is that unless Belgium’s Superior Health Council comes to an unusually speedy resolution, many holiday plans for the end of February will be jeopardised.

Impatient for an approval that may not materialise, some teens have taken matters into their own hands and are actively seeking to become infected in order to have a recovery certificate in time, which would also qualify them for the vaccine passes. But this comes at considerable risk to their personal health as well as threatening to further strain healthcare systems – an act deemed by health experts as downright “irresponsible”.

And although a week in the snow is a popular fixture of the February carnival holiday, the thought that some more fortunate families might see their normal ski trip disrupted by Europe’s inconsistent health pass regulations must surely be classed as a first world problem.

Have you got holiday plans? Let @Orlando_tbt know.

BUT WAIT, one last thing: Want news from The Brussels Times in your inbox every morning? Sign up for The Recap, a free daily newsletter containing all the top stories from the day before. Perfect with your morning coffee. 

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. Storm Corrie approaches: wind gusts up to 90 km/h, Brussels closes parks

Measures are taken to counter storm Corrie across Belgium, as the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) is predicting wind gusts of up to 90 km/h throughout Monday. Read more.

2. ‘Advice expected today’: still no decision on booster doses for teenagers


Belgium’s Superior Health Council has not yet issued advice on giving a booster vaccine to teenagers aged 12–17, but the country’s Vaccination Taskforce will meet on Monday to formulate its own advice and hopefully bring some clarity. Read more.

3. Anderlecht pays €21,000 for 11 fake cameras

The town council of Anderlecht has purchased 11 fake cameras in the fight against illegal dumping, but critics have questioned the steep price tag of €21,000 for the project. Read more.

4. Rise in new Covid-19 infections slowing down

The number of new coronavirus infections in Belgium is continuing to increase, but at a much slower rate than was seen during the past weeks. Read more.

5. Covid Safe Ticket scam: Officials warn of phishing email

Belgian officials have alerted the public to a new phishing scam that offers to provide Covid Safe-Ticket (CST) for a fee. Read more.

6. Ireland: ‘Bloody Sunday’ remembered 50 years on

Victims’ portraits and white roses featured prominently at the head of a procession held on Sunday in Londonderry to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day British soldiers mowed down 13 people in one of the darkest moments in the Northern Ireland conflict. Read more.

7. Hidden Belgium: The ghost town of Doel

It is almost a ghost town, but Doel still has about 20 residents. It can’t be easy living there. This deserted town north of Antwerp, which once had a population of 1,300, stands on the banks of the wide River Scheldt, next to a nuclear power station. Read more.

Latest News

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.