By the end of January, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke wants the entire adult population to have received a booster dose – something which will be a big challenge for the Brussels-Capital Region.
The Omicron variant is spreading even faster in Brussels than in the rest of the country, partially due to the Region’s lower vaccination coverage, virologist Steven Van Gucht said at the Consultative Committee press conference last Thursday.
While almost 6 out of 10 adult people in Flanders have already received a booster shot, this is only the case for 3 out of 10 Brussels residents.
“We still have to invite about 100,000 people. These are people whose four months after the previous shot had not yet passed,” Inge Neven of the Brussels Health Inspectorate said on Flemish radio on Sunday. “That way, by the end of January, roughly everyone who had already received two doses will have been invited.”
Whether everyone who has been invited will also show up remains to be seen, but Neven is hopeful. “We now see that around 80% of the people over 65 have turned up for the booster vaccination.”
While that figure is slightly lower for young people, the past has proven that they usually take a little longer and they were also vaccinated later. “But we will continue to monitor it and hopefully arrive at a good figure,” she added.
In the meantime, the biggest hurdle remains convincing people who have not even had their first shot yet. “If you have not been vaccinated yet, that also means that you will have to get a total of three shots.”
“We also know that a large number of people already doubted whether vaccination was the only way out of the Covid crisis. Those people are now proven a little bit right,” Neven said.
“We have to go for another shot, maybe not the last one. This is not to say, of course, that I do not think people should get vaccinated. Vaccinations still help 90% against hospitalisations. So the message is, even if the threshold gets higher, still get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Brussels is continuing to focus on vaccination buses and vaccination antennae close by, and on disseminating accurate information, among other things.