The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus will be administered in Belgium on Monday 28 December, at 11 AM, experts of the Task Force for the Vaccination Strategy said on Saturday.
Priority will be given in the initial phase – Phase 1A – to residents and staff of nursing homes and hospices, starting on Monday when the first residents of three centres in the three regions will be vaccinated. This phase could last until late February.
The strategy will really be rolled out on a large scale from 5 January and, by the end of February, the task force will have finished vaccinating people in the care centres and nursing homes, which means health care workers can be vaccinated from March. This phase will also include centres for the handicapped.
From the month of March, it will be the turn of hospital employees and other frontline staff, experts of the Task Force for the Operationalisation of the Vaccination Strategy said on Saturday. In next phase, high-risk patients such as the chronically ill and people aged 65 years and over will be vaccinated. This phase should be done in May, but everything will depend on the supply of vaccines.
A first batch of 9,750 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech arrived on Saturday morning at the University of Leuven (UZ). They will be thawed off on Sunday so that injections can begin at the Sint-Pieters Centre in Puurs-Sint-Aman, Notre Dame de Stockel Centre in Woluwe-St-Pierre and La Bonne Maison de Bouzanton in Mons.
About 500 doses of the vaccine delivered on Saturday will be reserved for these centres.
For it to be effective, the vaccine must be given in two doses. The second injection will take place three weeks later, give or take three days, the experts said. “If the vaccination needs to be postponed, due to a high fever, for example, the vaccine will be administered as soon as possible after recovery,” said vaccine specialist Pierre Van Damme. ”In this case, the 21-day deadline may be exceeded,” he added.
Should a nursing home resident decide not to take the vaccine, they will be able to have their way since vaccination is not compulsory. “It’s a voluntary act,” the experts say.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer is the only one approved in Europe in Europe thus far.