More than 32,000 extra people, mainly people over 85 years old who do not live in a residential care centre, will get vaccinated next week, Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke confirmed on Wednesday.
The acceleration is a direct consequence of Tuesday's recommendation by the Superior Health Council to also use AstraZeneca's vaccine for people over 55 years old, Beke told VTM News.
"The advice allows us to gain two weeks," Beke said, adding that the invitations for those over 85 are already going out the door. "The group of people over 65 was actually only planned for the end of March, but will now happen earlier."
This also means that everyone at the end of the line to get vaccinated will now get their vaccine two weeks earlier. "Although you must always speak carefully," he said, adding that "we remain dependent on the producers."
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On Wednesday afternoon, Beke will sit down with Belgium's other health ministers to formally approve the Superior Health Council's advice.
In addition to recommending AstraZeneca's vaccine for over-55s, the Council also left room for more time between the two shots with the Pfizer vaccine, to vaccinate faster.
"However, that still needs to be legally reviewed," said Beke, who pointed out that the impact of the vaccinations is already clearly visible in the curves.
"In the residential care centres, we are already seeing far fewer hospital admissions," he said. "If we can do the same for the over-65s, it will be a step in the right direction."
The Brussels Times