The national union of pharmacists has advised its members to reserve available stocks of flu vaccine this year for those who need it most.
Since yesterday, it has been possible for those aged over 50 years to buy a flu vaccine over the counter at the pharmacy. That allows patients to make only one appointment with the doctor, to have the vaccine administered, as a prescription is not required.
However the coronavirus pandemic has increased demand for the vaccine this year, and the union has called on the public not to bring about a rush on the available stocks of vaccine by waiting until those who need it most have been served.
“Demand is much higher than in other years due to the Covid epidemic,” Lieven Zwaenepoel of the union told the VRT. “As a result, we have to give priority to the vulnerable target groups.”
Around three million doses of vaccine have been ordered, 700,000 more than last year. But still that may not be enough.
“We cannot guarantee that everyone who needs one will get one,” Zwaenepoel said.
For the time being, many pharmacists seem not to be aware of the change in the rules allowing the over-fifties to buy a vaccine over the counter.
Others have not received the quantities ordered, and are working with waiting lists.
“We have to ask people to give precedence to those who are most vulnerable,” the union said. That means the elderly, those with chronic illnesses and health care personnel.
“We are asking those who are healthy to give priority to those vulnerable groups. There are no surpluses. If we have to vaccinate everyone who qualifies, we probably won’t be able to.”