Belgium promises 'vaccination barometer' to keep track of vaccine rollout

Belgium promises 'vaccination barometer' to keep track of vaccine rollout
Credit: Belga

Belgium is developing another barometer, this time to keep track of how many people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, several experts on the vaccination task force said this weekend.

The "vaccination barometer" will show the progress made, contain figures on the number of people already vaccinated and the doses that have been delivered, and show how the country will go through the different stages of the vaccination strategy.

"We will then see how the curve evolves week after week," said Sabine Stordeur, project manager of the Vaccination Task Force, in an online briefing of experts on Saturday. "This way, we will be able to monitor progress."

This is not the first barometer promised by the authorities. At the end of September 2020, then-Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès already announced a coronavirus barometer to enable Belgium to finetune measures against the pandemic.

The launch of the barometer, however, was then delayed several times to make sure it was "perfect," before it was eventually dropped by the De Croo government in November.

This new vaccination barometer will also help to keep the population's motivation to follow the rules high in addition to showing an overview of the situation, according to vaccinologist Pierre Van Damme.

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"As a larger proportion of the population is vaccinated, that will have repercussions on the traditional indicators used by the authorities and the group of experts (GEMS) to allow relaxations, such as the number of infections and hospitalisations per day," he said.

However, the barometer should be handled very carefully, as "we do not want to send out the message that anyone who has been vaccinated can do just about anything," said Van Damme.

"Now, there is enormous solidarity in the population to respect the measures," he said. "That solidarity will also have to exist between those who are vaccinated and those who are not."

A third wave of Covid-19 infections could still impact Belgium's vaccination strategy. "We are going to need a lot of people to administer the vaccinations," said Dirk Ramaekers, head of the vaccination task force.

"Since December, a legal provision exists that people who do not meet the traditional legal criteria may also administer vaccinations," he said, referring to other care providers, retired people and students, all of whom will then have to follow a brief training.

"But first and foremost, we must do everything we can to ensure that this third wave does not happen," Ramaekers said.

"The more such a third wave can be stopped, the greater the success of the vaccinations," added Van Damme. "This is an and-and story."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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