'No point' in asking GPs to get on high-risk patient lists for vaccine

'No point' in asking GPs to get on high-risk patient lists for vaccine
Credit: Belga

There is "no point" in contacting your GP to get on the list of high-risk patients who get priority for a Covid-19 vaccination, doctors stressed after a growing number of calls since the list was made public on Wednesday.

"We mainly get anxious questions," Filip Charlier, a general practitioner from the Flemish Brabant province, said on Flemish radio on Friday morning. "The main questions we get from patients are about how they can know if they are a high-risk patient, why their condition is not on the list, or how they will be called on for a vaccination earlier."

However, Charlier stressed that there is "no point" in contacting your GP, or even in going to another GP if you want to be included on the list of high-risk patients for priority vaccination.

It is not up to GPs to make that decision, as each vaccination centre will have a so-called "population manager" who will also check all patient lists, and decide who gets called.

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GP Pieter-Jan Van Landegem from a general practitioners' practice in the Limburg province was already getting a lot of calls about the vaccination strategy before the list had been published, but the number "has gone up significantly" since Wednesday.

"Many patients tell me about their condition because they want to know if they are a high-risk patient," he told local media. "For example, it is not clear whether their condition is chronic or not, for many people."

Van Landegem said that even though an official list exists now, "there will always be a grey area" where GPs have to judge whether the patient in question is a high-risk one or not.

Additionally, the Belgian Association of Physicians’ Syndicates (BVAS) on Thursday called on the government to skip the vaccination phase for high-risk patients, and instead immediately vaccinate the population by age group.

While a good idea in theory, vaccinating high-risk groups first will lead to "so many problems that it will have more harmful than beneficial consequences," they said.

Additionally, there is no higher factor for death than the risk associated with age, according to BVAS. “Vaccinating people by age group – from old to young – is already vaccinating against the greatest risk of severe Covid-19.”

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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