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Belgium in Brief: Delaying The Inevitable?

Pushing back an appointment in order to avoid getting the AstraZeneca vaccine is – seemingly – a bit of a pointless endeavour.

Despite an increasing number of people cancelling appointments due to fear of the AstraZeneca shot… Belgium is saying they will probably still get the same vaccine, just later.

No matter what you do, “the type of vaccine you will receive is fixed in advance, so you cannot change the type of vaccine by rescheduling your appointment,” Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the taskforce, confirmed to The Brussels Times.

So unless Belgium changes its mind on the matter, which seems unlikely at this time, nothing will change aside from a delay.

Several countries – including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark – have already put their vaccination campaigns with the AstraZeneca shot on hold, following reports that several people developed blood clots and thrombosis symptoms after being vaccinated.

But Belgium is staying put for now.

“It would be irresponsible to suspend vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine right now,” said Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

So what do you think?
Should people be able to pick the vaccine they take?
Should there be a list of people who are willing to take AstraZeneca?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. ‘I am worried,’ Marc Van Ranst tells Twitter

Vocal Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst is “worried” about the corona figures.

Taking to Twitter on Monday evening Van Ranst lamented the current change in figures across the country, which reached 316.3 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past fortnight, a 14% increase compared to the two weeks before. Read More.

2. EU ‘vaccination passports’ for travel will be free of charge

The European Union’s “vaccination passport” to make travel possible again – the Digital Green Certificate – is supposed to be free of charge for citizens and should be available to everyone in June.

On Wednesday, the European Commission will present its proposal for the certificate, which is meant to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from it, or has a negative test result. Read more.

3. Rock Werchter postponed until 2022

The Belgian music festival Rock Werchter will not be held in 2021, and will instead focus efforts on the 2022 edition of the festival, the company announced on Tuesday.

The next edition will take place from 30 June to 3 July 2022, organisers announced on Twitter. Read More.

4. Over half of Belgian cities have dangerous levels of air pollution

Over half (58%) of cities in Belgium averaged dangerous levels of air pollution that exceeded the WHO’s annual targets, even with lockdown-related reduction in emissions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The finding comes from the 2020 World Air Quality report released this morning by IQAir, which presents a global air pollution ranking of cities across 106 countries. Belgium is ranked number 90 worldwide (and 32 for just Europe), with Bangladesh in the number 1 spot for the worst air pollution. Read More.

5. Closed Belgian bars offered €500 by burger chain looking for ad space

Belgian fast-food chain Quick has caught the attention of local retailers in Belgium after it offered closed bars €500 each to allow it to advertise in their currently vacant windows. Read more.

6. Chambermaid murdered by escaped psychiatric patient in Brussels ringroad hotel

A 33-year-old chambermaid at a hotel in Ruisbroek in Flemish Brabant was murdered by a hotel guest who was a psychiatric patient from France.

The public prosecutor’s office of Halle-Vilvoorde confirmed that the perpetrator was arrested sometime after 12 PM on Monday. As it stands there is no link between the two. Read More.

7. Rain and a chance of snow in Belgium today

Part of Belgium has a chance of snow today as the sky will be cloudy and the temperatures low, according to the latest weather forecast by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI). Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times