Only about 1,000 Covid-19 vaccines from the American company Novavax, for people who are allergic to the other vaccines, have been administered in Belgium so far.
The vaccine has been available since early March, and the authorities hoped that it could serve as an alternative for people with allergies as well as those hesitant to get vaccinated with the new technology of mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna.
But the interest in the Novavax vaccine has been lower than expected, and over 420,000 doses are being kept refrigerated for the time being, according to official figures from the Vaccination Taskforce on Friday.
"We thought there would be more interest," Dirk Ramaekers of the Taskforce said on Flemish radio. "In addition to the people who react allergically or badly to Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines, we had thought that there would be a third group of people interested in this vaccine: those who had developed an irrational fear of being vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines."
- Belgium will offer Novavax vaccine to those allergic to Pfizer or Moderna
- Brussels starts administering Novavax vaccine from next week
- Brussels vaccination uptake 'in free fall' since Belgium lifts measures
So far, 575 Belgian residents received a first Novavax shot, 281 also received a second dose, and 113 people even received a booster shot with the vaccine – adding up to just under 1,000 shots.
Novavax vaccine works in a totally different way than the mRNA vaccines, and it appears to convince far fewer vaccine-hesitant people than expected. "The fact that we are at the end of the vaccination campaign probably also has something to do with it," said Ramaekers.
Initially, the vaccine was planned for the autumn of 2021, when the Delta variant was still in full circulation in Belgium, but the doses were only delivered in February and March 2022.
Another vaccination campaign after the summer
"At the moment, the Covid-19 figures are evolving favourably and the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) has been dropped," he said. "It gives the impression that the pandemic is over so people are less interested in getting vaccinated."
The delivered Novavax vaccines will only last until the end of August, but Ramaekers believes this date could still be extended.
"We anticipate another large-scale vaccination campaign after the summer. We can then use the Novavax vaccine as an alternative for those who continue to have doubts about the mRNA vaccines and those who react allergically or badly to them."
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Novavax vaccines are also still waiting to be administered in the Netherlands.