Brussels will offer free PCR test for people vaccinated before 31 October
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Brussels will offer free PCR test for people vaccinated before 31 October

Credit: Belga

Brussels is planning to offer a free PCR test for people who have been vaccinated before 31 October in another effort to boost vaccination rates in the Belgian capital.

Brussels continues to have the lowest vaccination rates in all of Belgium, even as coronavirus indicators are on the rise.

Starting on 1 October, people in Brussels will need to use their Covid Safe Ticket in order to attend large gatherings or get into bars, restaurants, sporting events, clubs and other establishments.

But the Covid Safe Ticket is only valid two weeks after a person is fully vaccinated, meaning that those who have yet to be vaccinated but plan to get a shot soon will need to present a negative PCR test or certificate of recovery in order to be admitted to those places and events in the meantime.

Therefore, in an effort to incentivise more people to get vaccinated, the Joint Community Commission is promising one free PCR test per dose of the vaccine to those who decide to get vaccinated now.

This means that two-dose vaccine recipients (such as for vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna) will get two free tests, and single-dose vaccine recipients (like those who get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will get one.

The free tests are for those who choose to be vaccinated between 16 September and 31 October, and can be administered up to 15 days after the vaccination occurs.

“Although vaccination has proven its effectiveness in the fight against the coronavirus, some Brussels residents are still reluctant to be vaccinated,” the commission said in a press release.

“Moreover, with the arrival of the Covid Safe Ticket, the demand for PCR tests should increase.”

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The free PCR test measure will be in place until mid-November.

While coronavirus figures are stabilising overall, the number of hospitalised people remains high, and the overwhelming majority of them are unvaccinated.

Nearly 26 percent of intensive care units in Brussels hospitals are occupied this week.

The vaccination rates for the Brussels-Capital Region have climbed to 67 percent for a first dose and 64 percent for a second dose when it comes to those aged 18 and over.

This is still significantly lower than rates in Flanders and Wallonia.

On Friday, virologist Steven Van Gucht said that while current major coronavirus indicators in Belgium are more positive than models had previously predicted, a fourth wave later in the year is still possible.

The Brussels Times

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