‘Cannot exclude it’: Belgium prepares to give entire population a third shot
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‘Cannot exclude it’: Belgium prepares to give entire population a third shot

Credit: Belga

The Flemish Care and Health Agency has asked the region’s vaccination centres to be ready to administer a third vaccine dose to the entire adult population despite no medical advice yet being issued for such a measure.

As most vaccination centres will stay open for the booster vaccinations of over-65s, the Agency indicated in Het Belang van Limburg on Friday that they should also be ready for a possible mass-vaccination campaign.

“A decision regarding a third dose for all adults has certainly not been made but we cannot exclude that it will happen,” Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the Care and Health Agency, confirmed to The Brussels Times.

Belgium’s Vaccination Taskforce has asked the Superior Health Council for a scientific opinion about such a third dose for the general population, says the spokesperson of the Taskforce, Gudrun Briat.

“That opinion is expected in the first half of November and will then be sent to the Interministerial Health Conference,” she told The Brussels Times.

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Should medical experts dismiss the proposed measure, no further action will be taken. “But if the advice is positive, the Interministerial Health Conference will see if giving the general population a third dose is opportune,” said Briat, adding that it is then up to the regions to organise the campaign.

Although a decision has yet to be taken, the Care and Health Agency already made the announcement to avoid overwhelming vaccination centres, where staff were surprised by the announcement that they would have to stay open longer than the initial 15 October date to give the over-65s their third shot.

“Especially as a number of vaccination centres are changing locations in some municipalities, we wanted to warn them that they should take into account that hundreds of thousands and even millions of people might have to be vaccinated again,” Moonens added.

For him, this is “a real option that must be taken into account” so that the centres can prepare themselves logistically and also mentally. The Agency is also calculating how many people would be vaccinated in which periods.

The people aged 65 and over who are currently getting a booster shot are all receiving a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, regardless of which vaccine they first had.

Those who initially received the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will get their booster dose at least four months after their last shot was administered. Those vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna will get their booster dose at least six months after their last jab.

“Taking these calculations into account, the centres would have to keep vaccinating until March 2022, with a peak expected in January and February,” Moonens said.

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