Teachers should get priority access to Covid-19 jab, Flemish minister says

Teachers should get priority access to Covid-19 jab, Flemish minister says
© Belga

Teachers should be part of the essential workers group set to be given priority in Belgium's major coronavirus vaccination campaign, Flanders' health minister said on Thursday.

Belgium's array of public health ministers convened with Federal Coronavirus Commissioner Pedro Facon on Thursday to hammer out the country's Covid-19 vaccination strategy.

Following the multi-level public health committee, Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke, who also presided the committee, said that it was crucial to give school staff early access to the jab.

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"Teachers and education staff, who are in constant contact each day with dozens of young people, should be part of this group," Weyts said, 7sur7 reports. "Keeping the schools open is of the utmost importance for the whole of society."

Schools in Belgium are currently running at half-capacity after they were forced to return to distance-learning modalities, with only half a class physically attending class on an alternating basis.

For parents working in essential professions or for those who have no alternative child care arrangements, schools continue to provide day care services.

According to the government's freshly unveiled strategy, essential workers are currently sixth in line in the vaccination campaign, which, if all goes to plan, could begin as early as 5 January, according to the prime minister.

Together with the group of residents aged 45 and over and suffering from a pre-existing condition, the professions who will be included in the group of essential workers is yet to be defined by government officials.

So far, Belgium has integrated 5 candidate vaccines from manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech, Jansen, AstraZeneca, Curevac and Moderna into its vaccination campaign.

According to preliminary data, most of the vaccines require two doses to be effective, with Jansen's shot being the only potential single-dose exception.

Vaccination with any of the vaccines can only effectively begin after the EU's own drugs agency gives market approval to one or more vaccines.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been leaping towards market approval, recently obtaining clearance in the UK, and is expected to be the first to arrive in Belgium, with some 600,000 doses expected in January, enough to inoculate 300,000 people.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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