Explained: Brussels' vaccination queue jumpers

Explained: Brussels' vaccination queue jumpers
Credit: Belga

Waiting at the door of a vaccination centre in the Brussels-Capital Region in the hope of skipping the vaccination queue and getting a leftover dose at the end of the day is apparently paying off.

In some vaccination centres, Brussels residents passing by can indeed get a leftover vaccine dose around closing time, Inge Neven, head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate, confirmed to The Brussels Times.

Does that mean people can skip the queue?

Some vaccination centres, such as the one in Forest and Anderlecht, sometimes also vaccinate passers-by or people who have heard from others that there are some leftover doses at the end of the day.

"It happens, but it is definitely not the intention," said Neven's spokesperson, Fatima Boudjaoui, who stressed that this is precisely why the Bruvax reserve list system was created, to vaccinate everyone in the correct order.

By just turning up at a centre at the end of the day, it is often younger people who are skipping the queue, she confirmed.

"This is very, very limited," Boudjaoui said, stressing that most vaccination centres follow the rules, and that vaccinations for people who just show up at a centre are "an exception."

"However, we see that this also happens in Flanders and Wallonia," she said. "Unfortunately, if people really want something, it seems they will find a way to get a vaccine. But once again: it is not the intention at all."

What about the Bruvax reserve list?

The guidelines for using Bruvax to administer possible leftover doses at the end of the day apply to all vaccination centres, and are regularly repeated.

"There are very, very few residual vaccines available at the end of the day," Boudjaoui said. "With the Bruvax system, people aged 41 to 45 can put themselves on a waiting list. They will then be called by centres who see that they will have vaccines available that cannot be used that day."

"Brussels residents can choose in which centre they get vaccinated, and can also indicate on which days they are free," she said, adding that this means there are very few leftover vaccines.

"This is exactly the reason why we have the waiting list via Bruvax, to call those people who are in the right age category," Boudjaoui said. "There are always more than enough people who sign up."

Is this against the rules?

It is kind of a grey area, according to Boudjaoui.

While giving those leftover doses to seemingly random people - regardless of whether they belong to the group currently being vaccinated - is not the intention or the procedure, it is "still better than throwing them away," she said.

However, as thousands of people are successfully using the Bruvax system to get vaccinated via the reserve list or make appointments to get their shots, "we are not worried that these few leftover shots will disrupt the Region's rollout," Boudjaoui added.

Do all vaccination centres in Brussels do this?

Not at all. Only two of Brussels vaccination centres give leftover doses to seemingly random people, according to Boudjaoui: Anderlecht and Forest.

"The others follow the rules, and exclusively use the Bruvax platform," Boudjaoui stressed, adding that the Region used the recent launch of the platform to tell the centres that they have to stick to the age groups whose turn it currently is.

How many leftover doses are there at the end of the day?

It only concerns vials that have already been opened, and still contain some doses that have to be administered before they are no longer usable.

At Anderlecht's vaccination centre, in the RSC Anderlecht stadium, leftover doses are regularly administered to people passing by or waiting at the door.

However, their home address has to be in Brussels, according to Bernard Jonckheere, the centre's administrative coordinator. "And if there are several people, we vaccinate the oldest first," he told Bruzz.

According to the vaccination centre, a maximum of 11 doses can remain at the end of a day, depending on the vaccine administered that day.

"From a vial of AstraZeneca's vaccine, we can get 12 doses. So if we open one, but there are only two appointments scheduled for the day, we end up with ten leftover doses," Benedicte Giroul, the pharmacist in charge at the site, told Bruzz.

A Pfizer vial contains six doses, of which five could remain at the end of the day, in principle. "We can administer these to people who are standing here," she added.

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