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Covid-19 vaccination strategy: Belgium’s state of play

Credit: Belga

As Belgium’s vaccination efforts are picking up speed, the head of the taskforce Dirk Ramaekers gave an overview of the current situation during a press conference on Tuesday.

Despite some unclear communication about the delivery of sufficient Pfizer vaccines, the rollout in the residential care centres is happening on schedule, according to Ramaekers.

“In the meantime, Jos Hermans has already received his second vaccine,” he added, referring to the first person to get a Covid-19 vaccine in Belgium.

This week, vaccinations of healthcare staff in hospitals started as well. “In 40 hospitals, the Pfizer vaccine is used, as they can store the vaccine at a very low temperature,” Ramaekers said.

A total of 86,000 caregivers will be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine starting this week. “We will start in the emergency departments, intensive care and Covid-19 wards,” he added.

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The Moderna vaccine – which must be administered in two doses, four weeks apart – will also be used from now on. “8,000 doses have been planned for this first week.”

On Monday, Moderna vaccinations started in one pilot hospital per Region, and additional hospitals will be designated over the course of the week, according to Ramaekers.

“The first ones went well, meaning they will continue as planned in the next days and weeks,” he added.

Up until Sunday 17 January, a total of over 100,000 people in Belgium had been vaccinated – or 35% of the intended target group in phase 1A.

“These are the residents and staff of the residential care homes, and the primary caregivers in hospitals and also first-line healthcare personnel,” said Ramaekers.

These figures are now also available on Sciensano’s dashboard – which shows the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths – and will be updated daily.

Additionally, the general population will be vaccinated in the vaccination centres, the locations of which were revealed by the Regions last week. “They are now going to work to get those centres ready for the start of the next phase, 1B.”

In those centres, people over 65 years old will be vaccinated first, starting from the oldest ones as well as those with a chronic illness, according to Ramaekers.

Based on Belgium’s vaccination strategy, that phase is set to start in March. If everything goes according to plan, over 70% of the population should be vaccinated by September – the threshold that is considered the minimum for herd immunity.

A more in-depth explanation of Belgium’s vaccination strategy can be found here.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times