Belgian pharmacist urges healthy groups to hand back flu vaccine
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Belgian pharmacist urges healthy groups to hand back flu vaccine

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An Antwerp pharmacist is urgently calling on healthy buyers of the flu vaccine to return to their dose to ensure there are enough shots for vulnerable patients.

Christel Van Eynde, a pharmacist in the Antwerp district of Deurne, says that several at-risk patients were struggling to get a hold of a vaccine as the coronavirus pandemic heightened residents’ concerns over the seasonal flu, causing demand to skyrocket.

“We see a lot of concerned parents of children with serious underlying conditions, advanced diabetes patients and people who have had [Covid-19] and lung damage,” failing to obtain a dose of the shot, Van Eynde told VRT.

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“These people have often visited several pharmacists, but without success. They belong to [the priority] risk group and we give them priority but we cannot help everyone.”

The pharmacist said that it was at times “heartbreaking” to see at-risk patients walk away without their vaccine, calling on healthy residents who managed to get a hold of a vaccine but are not in a priority group to return it to their pharmacist.

But Van Eynde’s comments follow a last-minute decision by health officials to revise this years’ vaccination campaign strategy, in a U-turn which saw demographics originally considered as at-risk bumped out of the priority group.

The revision caused confusion among health professionals and costumers, some of whom had already obtained a flu shot in accordance with the previous guidelines.

The changes namely affected 50 to 65 year-olds who, unless they suffer from a chronic illness or fit other criteria, no longer have guaranteed access to a shot during this flu season.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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