Vaccination against the coronavirus will become mandatory for people working in the healthcare sector, including hospitals but also residential care centres, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.
Although vaccination is done on a voluntary basis in Belgium, workers in this sector are an exception, according to De Croo.
"For people in the care sector, vaccination is more than an individual choice. That means doing everything possible to prevent the patients or residents they care for from falling ill," he said.
The Consultative Committee has asked the various health ministers to examine the conditions to make such a compulsory vaccine a universal norm in the sector.
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"Doing so raises a lot of questions. It requires consultation and there are many things that need to be looked at," said Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
"But we are at the point where we have to ask ourselves: What is really needed to ensure that there is an obvious norm that those who work in healthcare protect themselves and also protect their patients, and that this becomes the general rule," he said.
De Croo emphasised that making vaccination against certain diseases mandatory is not new,"as it is already in place for Hepatitis B vaccines for people working in the sector."
The conditions and modalities for that obligation will now be examined. A date has not yet been set for when the obligation will be implemented.
More than 8.3 million Belgians have received a first dose of the vaccine, representing 84.7% of the adult population, and 72.2% of the total population (including 12 to 17-year-olds, who can now also be vaccinated).
Meanwhile, more than 7.75 million people are fully vaccinated, accounting for 81.9% of the adult population in Belgium, and 67.3% of the total population.