After nearly two years of administering Covid-19 vaccinations, all vaccination centres in Flanders will close by the end of December, announced Flemish Health Minister Hilde Crevits on Thursday.
By the start of 2021, vaccination centres were opened across all of Flanders to administer Covid-19 doses to all eligible adults, with an "impressive" balance sheet, Crevits said in a press release.
"Who remembers 3 February 2020? In our country, the first Covid-19 infection was detected in Flanders. On 21 December 2020, the first vaccine was approved. After that, vaccinations could start," she said. "Thousands of volunteers in Flanders rose up to make the vaccination campaign a success and help their fellow citizens."
"Every Flemish person experienced first-hand the drive and enthusiasm of those volunteers and their flawless organisation," Crevits said. "This is how we managed to make Flanders one of the most-vaccinated and thus best-protected regions in the world. That deserves a big thank you. Meanwhile, we remain vigilant no matter what."
Immense impact on society
Establishing the vaccination centres and carrying out the vaccination campaigns can rightly be labelled as one of the biggest logistical operations since World War II, her cabinet stressed.
The figures speak for themselves. For instance, since the start of the vaccination centres in 2021, nearly 16 million invitations were sent by vaccination centres, and more than 17 million vaccines were administered to over 5.7 million people in vaccination centres. Taking into account the vaccines administered outside the centres (such as by GPs and pharmacists), a total of more than 19 million doses were given.
Crevits stressed the immense impact of these efforts on society in Flanders and Belgium as a whole. At the end of October 2021, the public health institute Sciensano calculated that basic vaccinations had prevented an estimated 30,000 hospital admissions.
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"This allowed us to take the pressure off the healthcare system and relax freedom-restricting measures, which in turn represents a huge gain for the well-being of everyone in Flanders."
From January, the Care and Health Agency will organise Covid-19 vaccinations through the normal vaccination circuit, with GPs, pharmacists, home nurses, occupational health services and the Growing up Agency (agentschap Opgroeien) as the main vaccinators.
To make sure the experiences gained from these vaccination campaigns over the past three years are not forgotten, authorities are currently preparing a major vaccination conference, which will take place in spring 2024.