Flanders to administer 50,000 more coronavirus vaccines than last week
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Flanders to administer 50,000 more coronavirus vaccines than last week

Credit: Belga

The vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in Flanders will be accelerated this week, with some 129,489 shots set to be administered, around 50,000 more than were given in the region last week.

Just 78,422 people in Flanders received their vaccine last week. However, the rollout will now be increased, especially in hospitals, where up to 75,860 vaccines will be distributed among the staff, compared to only 28,088 in the previous week.

This news comes as Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations are on the rise across the country, where over 400 people were reported to be in intensive care on Monday.

The rollout in Flemish residential care homes is reaching its final stage, with almost 99% of the vaccines having been administered, and another 3,053 Pfizer vaccines to be given this week.

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People with disabilities in the region will receive 10,000 fewer doses than last week, around 13,758 vaccines compared to 23,184. However, around 15,318 first shots of the Pfizer vaccine are planned for people aged over 65 years who are living in service flats in Flanders.

Flemish vaccination centres will continue to be affected by the decreased deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine as just 21,500 units were dispatched to be administered to primary care staff.

Limited use and decreased deliveries

The decreased and delayed deliveries of both the Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have played a major factor in the slow pace of the vaccination campaign so far.

Last week, AstraZeneca announced it would decreased its deliveries to Belgium for two weeks, with the country receiving just 109,600 doses instead of the promised 204,616.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical company has said that, from 7 March onwards, no further reductions in deliveries are expected.

However, of the doses that Belgium did receive, just four out of five doses delivered by the EU were being used, as it administered just 9,832 of the acquired 201,600 doses, according to a Guardian investigation based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

It also found that the main reason for the limited use of this vaccine is that, just like authorities in some member states, Belgium’s federal government decided to follow the advice by the Superior Health Council and advised against the vaccine being used for people aged over 55 years old. 

However, on 28 February, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said he will ask the Superior Health Council whether the AstraZeneca vaccine could now be administered to people over the age of 55, adding that could be a real game-changer.

“If we can administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to everyone, our vaccination campaign can be simpler and more direct,” he explained. “We have also asked the (Vaccination) Task Force how we can speed up the planning,” he said speaking on ‘De Zevende Dag’ TV programme.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times