100 Belgians given coronavirus vaccine after responding to Facebook post

100 Belgians given coronavirus vaccine after responding to Facebook post
Credit: Belga

Around 100 people received their first vaccine against coronavirus earlier than expected after a post on the social media platform Facebook about undistributed shots got a lot of reaction.

The vaccination centres in the Flemish Brabant municipalities of Wemmel and Londerzeel were expecting 300 health care providers to administer their shots this weekend, however, 100 people did not show up for their arranged slot.

“In Wemmel, there were many primary care workers who had not confirmed nor cancelled their appointment, which resulted in a very low turnout on Saturday,” Armand Hermans, president of the organisation which supports first-line health professions (such as general practitioners, home care nurses) in Grimbergen and the surrounding municipalities, told The Brussels Times.

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The organisation was already compiling a list of people from the general public who would meet the criteria to be vaccinated in these situations, but this system was being updated during the weekend, meaning the centre couldn’t use this list.

The vaccination strategy procedure states that, in the case of missed appointments, the people concerned should be contacted first.

“In the morning, we called the people who had failed to respond to the invitation to ask if they were coming or not, because it is important for us to prepare the vaccine. We then made calls based on the basic list we received from the Agency for Care and Health, but this resulted in a limited number of people,” Hermans said.

The first-line care organisation, in fear of losing the vaccines, took to social media and posted on its Facebook page that it was drawing up a reserve list for vaccinations, to which a lot of people responded saying they would like to be administered with a dose earlier than planned.

The post included a link for people to register to the region’s own back-up list, and the centre then decided to switch to a first-come, first-served tactic.

"Just before closing time, we were able to use all of the vaccines that had been set aside for that day," said Hermans.

"Initially, our wish was that we would never have to use it, because that's not what the authorities have said should happen. They want us to look at their lists, which makes sense," Hermans explained.

However, he emphasised he wanted no vaccines to go to waste, and added "necessity knows no law”, but that this would remain the exception for emergency situations.

The Agency for Care and Health has since responded to the centre’s intervention, and Hermans has received confirmation that the official lists compiled by the government will be made to the vaccination centres in their entirety, which will give the centres more details about possible candidates.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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