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Brussels starts vaccinating residents in shops today

The Vacci-bus, a mobile vaccination point, is parked on the parking lot of an Action store in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in Brussels. Credit: Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq

A number of shops in the Brussels-Capital Region opened on Monday morning with arrangements in place to administer the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine to customers on the spot.

The initiative was implemented with the trade and services federation Comeos and the Common Community Commission (Cocom).

The Brussels health authorities launched a number of local initiatives to bring vaccination closer to the people over the past weeks, and the managers of large shops are now joining in this initiative to combat the low vaccination coverage in the Region.

In practice, either a vaccination bus is parked in the shops’ car park or a medical team is present in the shop.

The first Brussels shops to offer vaccination this Monday are the Action shop in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and the Carrefour hypermarkets in Evere and Auderghem, which are large supermarkets chosen in particular for their great accessibility.

In Auderghem, a medical area was marked out with large panels in the main entrance corridor. In Evere, the “Carrefour Café,” a brewery that was not in use because of the pandemic, was transformed into a vaccination centre.

Cocom deployed a doctor, two nurses and two people in charge of reception and administrative encoding.

Posters were also put up at the entrance of the shop to indicate the location of the vaccination site, the free procedure (which is carried out in 15 minutes without an appointment) and the use of a single-dose vaccine.

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About ten people were vaccinated in Evere and eight in Auderghem during the first hour of opening. Among them, an elderly couple was present from 9:30 AM in Evere, who told the Belga news agency that they first made an appointment at the large Heysel centre, but were not comfortable with the idea of being in a place where there would be a crowd.

Additionally, it was difficult for them to get there, unlike the Carrefour shop, which is located near their home.

A small queue of a few people was noticeable in front of the centre in Evere.

“Accessibility is a big factor,” a Carrefour Belgium spokesperson said. “People come to ask for information and say they will come back later. The fact that it’s a walk-in centre, unlike traditional vaccination centres, is very attractive. We have people of all ages, young people in their twenties too. We certainly have people returning from holiday.”

The two Carrefour hypermarkets are open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and the vaccination points from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM from Monday to Friday for the first two weeks, and from Monday to Wednesday after that.

Vaccination will also be offered in the Primark shop in Ixelles from Wednesday to Friday, and in the Ikea in Anderlecht on Fridays and Saturdays.

After the one in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean this week, the Action shop in Anderlecht will join the initiative the following week.

As of Monday 30 August, 62% of the adult population in Brussels has been fully vaccinated, compared to 89% in Flanders and 78% in Wallonia, according to the latest figures by the Sciensano national health institute.

The Brussels Times