Three additional hospitals in the Brussels-Capital Region – the University Hospital (UZ Brussel), the Erasmus Hospital and the Saint-Luc Hospital – will now be allowed to preventively administer vaccinations against monkeypox.
Until now, preventive vaccination was only possible in the CHU Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels, but the government's Risk Management Group (RMG) decided on Thursday evening to allow vaccination in three more hospitals, a spokesperson for the UZ Brussel confirmed to The Brussels Times.
"The decision was made late last night. Today, our infectiology team is looking into how we will arrange this in practice," she said. "At the moment, we do not yet know when we will be able to start administering doses."
Only specific people eligible
Even though the demand for preventive vaccination against the virus is growing rapidly, not everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be given a shot due to Belgium's current limited number of vaccines.
In addition to those who had a very high-risk contact with an infected person, current regulations state that only four specific groups of people are eligible to be vaccinated preventively:
- men who have sex with men and are HIV-positive or taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and have contracted at least two sexually transmitted infections in the last year,
- male and transgender sex workers,
- people with severe immune disorders – including uncontrolled HIV infection, immunosuppressed responses to medication (such as after transplantation), malignant blood diseases, congenital immune deficiencies, etc – and a high risk of infection,
- laboratory staff handling virus cultures.
According to the latest figures by the Sciensano National Health Institute on 2 August, a total of 482 monkeypox infections are currently recorded in Belgium, 172 of them in Brussels.
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Just over 3,000 monkeypox vaccines have provisionally been distributed among nine reference centres in Belgium. The CHU Saint-Pierre hospital received 820 doses. Belgium is expecting another 30,000 vaccines against the virus after the summer, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.