First batch of Covid-19 vaccines for children arrives in Belgium

First batch of Covid-19 vaccines for children arrives in Belgium
Credit: Belga

The first shipment of 336,00 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines for young children (aged 5 to 11 years old) has arrived in Belgium, the Vaccination Taskforce announced on Wednesday.

The vaccines are in flasks with a yellow cap so that they are easily recognisable, as the composition is different from that of the vaccines for adults.

“It concerns a smaller dose because children weigh less, and the manufacturers have also adjusted the composition so that children suffer as little as possible from immediate reactions and complaints, such as a stiff arm,” Dirk Ramaekers, head of the Vaccination Taskforce, told VRT.

On Monday, the Interministerial Health Conference (IMC) of the country’s different health ministers will meet again to decide on the vaccination programme for children. They are currently still waiting for the advice of the Superior Health Council, which is expected on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.

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At the previous Consultative Committee press conference, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke stated that a total of 400,000 doses of the children’s vaccine would be delivered in January next year.

If the official green light is given, which Vandenbroucke assumes will be the case, the first invitations will go out this month and vaccinations can start in January.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one that has been approved for use for children by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The vaccine will be administered with two shots, three weeks apart.

No vaccinations in schools

In the meantime, Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke stated that young children will not be vaccinated at school: “We have consulted with the Education Department and it has been clearly stated that the school managements do not want vaccinations to take place in the schools themselves, which would be the easiest solution logistically.”

As an alternative, authorities plan to use the existing vaccination centres to administer the children’s doses. “And if they cannot do that due to lack of capacity, or if they cannot organise themselves that way, there are other options that we are looking into.”

Additionally, a campaign to convince hesitant parents to let their children be vaccinated is underway.

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