80% of doctors in Belgium want compulsory vaccination for health care workers
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80% of doctors in Belgium want compulsory vaccination for health care workers

Credit: Belga

Nearly 80% of doctors, specialists and general practitioners in Belgium, both French and Flemish, are in favour of compulsory coronavirus vaccination for carers based on an online survey launched at the beginning of June with 700 respondents.

The doctors are mainly looking to encourage those in contact with possible infected people, according to reports from Le Spécialiste on Monday.

“I don’t think we can force anyone to be vaccinated, but we can force people who are in contact with the sick to be vaccinated. This does not seem to me to be problematic from an ethical point of view,” Professor Michel Moutschen, head of the infectious diseases department at the University Hospital of Liège, argued in the article.

“It is a duty. If members of healthcare staff do not wish to be vaccinated, they must consider a reorientation of their professional activity. This is true for both nurses and doctors,” he added.

As far as the survey is concerned, the results “show a strong trend, even if it is not a scientific survey,” according to Le Spécialiste.

The results showed the majority of those who did not support forced vaccination were:

  • French-speaking doctors (57%),
  • Men (50%),
  • Among those in favour of not making it compulsory, 58% were not fully vaccinated, but 42% were.

“These results do not surprise me. It’s shocking that some health care staff don’t want to be vaccinated at the moment in certain health care facilities,” Paul d’Otreppe, president of the Belgian Association of Hospital Directors (ABDH) explained.

“In the field, we notice that every week some caregivers change their mind and get vaccinated. The main problem today is the clusters in the nursing homes. There is a lower vaccination rate,” he added.

Flanders has a vaccination rate of around 90% in hospitals, while in the French-speaking regions, this is more likely 80% in hospitals and 70% in nursing homes.

Dr Philippe Devos, president of the Belgian Association of Medical Unions (ABSym), said he does not understand the motives of nursing staff who have not yet been vaccinated.

“To doctors who still have doubts, I remind them that the doctor must always reduce the risk for his patient,” he said.

At the level of the Ordre des Médecins, the vice-president, Dr Philippe Boxho, “insists that doctors get vaccinated and respect the scientific data when they give an opinion.”

He added that doctors who spread fake news about vaccines should be prosecuted: “there have already been three convictions in the north of the country with several months’ suspension from the art of healing.”