Flanders reached the milestone of 70% of people in the region being fully vaccinated, announced Flemish Public Health Minister Wouter Beke on Friday.
More than 5.17 million people in Flanders (77.75%) received at least their first shot with a coronavirus vaccine, according to the official data on the laatjevaccineren.be website.
Of these people, almost 4.7 million are fully vaccinated, or 70.48% of the entire population. The others, almost 484,000 people (7.27%- are partially vaccinated.
"More than 70% of all Flemish people are fully vaccinated! Together we protect each other by opting for the jab, and this solidarity is demonstrated every day," Beke said on Twitter.
Meer dan 70% van alle Vlamingen is volledig gevaccineerd! Samen beschermen we elkaar door te kiezen voor de prik, en die solidariteit wordt elke dag opnieuw getoond. Jong en oud strijden hand in hand tegen dit virus. Dat maakt me erg trots. Bedankt! #vaccinatiestrategie— Wouter Beke (@wbeke) August 13, 2021
"Young and old fight hand in hand against this virus. That makes me very proud," he added. "Thank you!"
Reaching a vaccination rate of 70% is a rather symbolic mark, as experts considered it the threshold for herd immunity for a long time.
More recently, however, they stated that there is "no magic number" for herd immunity, but also said aiming for 80% to 90% would be safer, considering the rise of the more infectious Delta variant.
Last week, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon already stated that Flanders, which is among the leaders in Europe in terms of vaccination, does not want to wait for Belgium's other regions to catch up, before relaxing the coronavirus measures.
“At some point, we will have to turn the corner towards normal life,” his spokesperson Olivier Van Raemdonck said, referring to the fact that over 90% of Flemish adults will be fully vaccinated by September.
“If we still cannot go back to normal with 90% of people vaccinated, when will we be able to?”
The next Consultative Committee, expected to take place in the second half of August, will focus on the last phase of Belgium’s summer plan, which has to see the country returning to normal life as much as possible, if 70% of the population across the entire country is fully vaccinated.