Flanders pauses infant and child vaccinations amid coronavirus
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Flanders pauses infant and child vaccinations amid coronavirus

Most infant vaccines will be temporarily halted in Flanders, a regional health agency said, citing understaffing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Stock image/pixnio

Infant vaccinations in Flanders will be temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, a Flemish health agency said on Thursday citing a lack of sufficient staff.

Flanders’ Child and Family Agency announced that it would be suspending all infant vaccinations for two weeks, just days after the current nationwide shutdown is set to be lifted.

“We are now working with fewer volunteers and nurses and doctors have been requisitioned elsewhere,” spokesperson Nele Wouters told De Standaard. “The consultancies could no longer maintain their normal functioning.”

A majority of Flemish infants and children are vaccinated in offices managed by the government agency, which said the coronavirus pandemic had made it necessary for the to “reorganise” when it came to vaccination schedules.

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“Child and Family is reorganising to be able to vaccinate again from Monday 6 April,” Wouters said, adding that parents would be informed of next steps “in good time.”

The agency did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Joris Moonens of the Flemish Agency for Health and Care, which is monitoring coronavirus patients in Flanders, said that infants should start being vaccinated again “as soon as possible.”

“Babies are less vulnerable to the coronavirus, but they are vulnerable to [diseases] (…) such as measles or whooping cough,” he said. “We, therefore, call on parents with babies to follow the communications of the Child and Family Agency very carefully.”

With school lessons halted in Flanders, Moonens said that elementary and secondary school pupils would also see their vaccinations postponed.

“The student counselling centres cannot reach all students for vaccinations during this period,” he said. “For our school-aged youth, this is less serious because they have already been vaccinated against most diseases when they were babies.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times