Vaccinating people during the weekend is ‘not self-evident’
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Vaccinating people during the weekend is ‘not self-evident’

Credit: Belga

Speeding up Belgium’s vaccination Covid-19 campaign by also vaccinating during the weekend is certainly not self-evident, according to Dirk Dewolf of the Flemish Agency for Care and Health.

Healthcare workers are holding on by the skin of their teeth after the horror year that was 2020, he said on Tuesday afternoon.

“If it is possible to defrost [Pfizer’s vaccines] during the weekend, vaccinations can happen even faster,” Dewolf said. “However, that requires even more effort from the hospitals and residential care staff. It is possible in theory, but certainly not self-evident.”

In recent days, the Flemish agency was criticised for the slowness of the vaccination campaign, as other countries had managed to vaccinate a lot more people.

“The principle is: once we have the vaccines, we will use them as soon as possible,” Dewolf said. “This week, we have given hospital pharmacies time to prepare properly. And that was necessary, especially at the beginning of the new year.”

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On Tuesday afternoon, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced in the parliamentary committee that he and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo asked the taskforce for a revised plan to speed up the vaccination campaign.

The vaccination campaign had started cautiously “for good reasons,” Vandenbroucke said, “but now we have to move forward at maximum speed.”

No vaccines should be left in a freezer, Vandenbroucke said, adding that “they all have to be used as soon as possible.”

Later on Tuesday, Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke announced on Twitter that Pfizer confirmed the deliveries for the coming weeks, meaning that vaccinations can happen more quickly now.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times