About a month later than initially hoped for, the Brussels-Capital Region has reached the symbolic threshold of 70% of adults who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
At the end of August, Brussels announced that it aimed to vaccinate 65% of its adult population by the end of October, as it would not reach the initial 70% threshold. However, with 57% of its over-18s vaccinated at the end of last month, this target was also missed.
“Last week, we exceeded the cap of 70% of Brussels residents over 18 years of age being fully vaccinated,” said the head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate Inge Neven at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“That is quite a good result after all the efforts of the past months,” she said, adding that 72% of all adult Brussels residents have now had their first dose, and 70% are fully vaccinated.
For the entire Brussels population, the figures are gradually approaching 60% for first doses, while 57% of residents are fully protected.
“Last week was also a week in which we vaccinated a little more, giving 6,100 first doses, 7,700 second doses, and about 12,000 booster doses,” Neven said. “So things continue to move forward.”
Neven pointed out that while the infection figures are rising almost as high as last year’s second peak, the number of hospitalisations is a lot lower. “This proves the power of the vaccines. The message is and remains: please get vaccinated, it helps.”
In the meantime, some 16,000 Brussels healthcare workers have also been invited for their booster shot, the authorities announced in a press release on Monday.
Those working in residential care centres and hospitals will be vaccinated at their job, and the others will be vaccinated in one of the various vaccination points, including in the Brussels Military Hospital that reopened on Monday.
Booster doses by spring
It is currently still unclear when or where the rest of the Brussels residents will receive their booster dose as the authorities are waiting for advice by the Superior Health Council, which will then be discussed by the country’s different Health Ministers at the Interministerial Health Conference (IMC), Neven explained.
“But it is true that there is the ambition to administer a third dose for the whole population by spring 2022,” she said. “We are now waiting for the opinion of the Council and the IMC to see if we should work by age group, or by type of vaccine, or if there are other elements.”
“All this is currently being analysed, and a decision by the IMC is expected on Saturday,” Neven said. “If that happens as planned, we will work out the plan for Brussels, in terms of vaccination centres and so on, by next week.”
Predicting how many Brussels will be vaccinated by the end of this year is “very difficult to estimate,” according to Neven. “We continue week after week and we have the ambition to do so for the last weeks of the year as well.”