A number of politicians in Belgium are pushing for drastic changes to the country's vaccination strategy, as they believe the rollout could be accelerated drastically if the principle of risk-groups is abandoned.
Following the Superior Health Council's latest recommendation that AstraZeneca's vaccine can be administered to all adults, including those over 55, Belgium's different health ministers will meet to decide on the acceleration of the vaccination strategy at 4:00 PM.
While that is a step in the right direction, some politicians are calling to change the entire strategy to go even faster.
In a letter sent by Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron and seen by L'Echo, Maron urged the authorities to consider sending invitations to get vaccinated per age category, not based on health conditions.
“The Superior Health Council has already pointed at age being the main ‘driver’ for severe complications and deaths as a result of being infected with Covid-19,” Maron said in the letter.
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He added that he proposed this move to avoid the legal difficulties that the selection of at-risk patients will pose, of which the elimination process may violate medical confidentiality.
On Wednesday, the leader of the Flemish liberal Open VLD party Egbert Lachaert, tweeted that he agreed with that message. "Today, the vaccination campaign must really accelerate. 65+ is an easily demarcated group, which was planned for March."
Vandaag moet de vaccinatiecampagne echt versnellen. 65+ is een eenvoudig af te bakenen groep, die voorzien was voor maart. Begin er gewoon aan.Allerlei andere groepen proberen afbakenen, al dan niet met schending van de privacy van patiënten, zal ons enkel nodeloos ophouden. — Egbert Lachaert (@egbertlachaert) March 3, 2021
"Just get started," he added. "Trying to define all kinds of other groups, with or without violating patients' privacy, will only delay us unnecessarily."
"Those risk groups are almost unworkable. To define them, the mutual health organisations first have to draw up lists that then have to be verified by the doctors," Lachaert told De Standaard.
"That is a blatant violation of patient data and, as a liberal, I also question the fact that the government knows your state of health," he added. "It also makes it hopelessly complicated when it can be done very simply: just start with the oldest and move on to the youngest."
Lachaert's Walloon counterpart, the leader of the Francophone liberal MR party, Georges-Louis Bouchez, also supported the call, tweeting that his party "has been asking for a study on vaccination by age group for weeks."
Cela fait des semaines que le @MR_officiel demande l’étude de la vaccination par tranche d’âge. Simple, rapide et répond à de nombreuses questions dont celle du respect de la vie privée. Le reset doit être infaillible. Nous sommes loyaux mais voulons l’efficacité. #begov ??— Georges-L BOUCHEZ (@GLBouchez) March 3, 2021
"This is simple, quick and answers many questions including that of privacy. The reset must be infallible. We are loyal but also want efficiency," he added.
The Brussels Times