The Brussels-Capital Region will deploy up to 40 mobile vaccination teams in schools, businesses and shops in the coming weeks, with the aim to achieve a 65% vaccination rate by the end of October.
Currently, just 50.8% of the entire Brussels population has received a first dose of a Covid vaccine, meaning the figure has to be increased by at least 15% over the next two months, announced Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron and Inge Neven of the Brussels Health Inspectorate at a press conference on Tuesday.
“If we achieve a vaccination coverage rate of 65% by the end of October, the fourth wave can stay at the same height of the third wave in spring,” said Neven.
In spring 2021, the number of hospital admissions was still low enough so that hospitals could continue their other care, according to her.
“We want to avoid reaching the height of last year’s second wave,” Neven stressed, pointing to the fact that the Brussels hospitals were under great pressure in autumn 2020.
To reach that percentage, 16,000 first doses will have to be administered per week, which will see the Common Community Commission (COCOM) vaccinating people in large shops, such as Primark, Action and IKEA, as well as in companies, and from September in schools and universities too.
“Vaccination protects. Yourself and others. I said it before and I’ll say it again: without vaccination, we would have been forced to restrict our freedoms even more these days,” said Maron.
— Alain Maron 🌍🌻 (@alainmaron) August 24, 2021
“Our targets are clear: 16,000 doses per week in the coming weeks to reach a vaccination rate of 65% (1st dose) by the end of October,” he added. “Let’s fight this virus together!”
The authorities will also make an assessment in mid-September as well as at the end of the month to see if the Region is on track to meet that target, according to Maron.
However, aiming for 65% is still 5% below the 70% threshold put forward by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo before the restrictions could be relaxed.
The vaccination coverage rate in Brussels has been widely discussed in previous weeks as it is considerably lower than in other regions. This resulted in Friday’s Consultative Committee deciding that measures, including in bars and restaurants and regarding the number of people you can invite into your home, won’t be relaxed in Brussels.
Additionally, the vaccination coverage in Brussels varies greatly between municipalities, ranging from 75% fully vaccinated adults in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert to 48% in both Molenbeek and Saint-Josse, according to the latest data by the Sciensano health institute on Monday.
The differences have led to calls rising for the different municipalities to be allowed to decide to coronavirus rules on their own territory if they have reached the 70% vaccination threshold, but it is currently unclear how this would work in practice.