Belgium starts vaccinating general population today: how ‘reserve lists’ will work
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Belgium starts vaccinating general population today: how ‘reserve lists’ will work

Credit: Belga

As Belgium starts vaccinating the general population from today, a system is being set up for people to register for accelerated vaccination in case of leftover doses in vaccination centres.

The system has to ensure that not a single vaccination shot will be lost or thrown away by allowing people to register to be vaccinated quickly, if there are leftover vaccines, and is supposed to be ready before the end of March.

“It is an inter-federal system, which means it will be used by all Regions in Belgium, not only in Flanders,” Joris Moonens of the Flemish Health and Care Agency told The Brussels Times. “However, we are still working on it so it is not operational just yet.”

The idea is that, via the computer, people can indicate when they are “available” to come to the vaccination centre in their neighbourhood within the hour, according to him.

Then, if other people cancel or have not shown up for their vaccination appointment, the registered people will be called or contacted to let them know that there is a place available.

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If registered people who are contacted cannot make it to the vaccination centre on such short notice, they will stay on the regular schedule to receive an invitation.

Currently, each vaccination centre is still free to choose what to do with the leftover doses, which recently led to some indignation as several kindergarten teachers and about 100 people who commented on a Facebook post were vaccinated, even though they were not part of a priority group.

With the streamlined reserve list system, similar situations have to be avoided in future, as the list will not allow anyone to cut to the front of the line – meaning a 25-year-old will not be able to take the place of an over-65, if the latter does not show up.

People can only sign up within their own group on the registration list: first the over-65s, then people with underlying health conditions, followed by people working in essential professions (these are only police officers who do interventions), then the rest of the adult population.

In concrete terms, people who are 25 will be able to indicate a number of occasions when they can make themselves available to come to a vaccination centre, starting from the moment when the broad vaccination is administered to people under 65 without underlying health problems.

Over the coming two weeks, the system will be built and thoroughly tested. The main thing is to ensure that it continues to work well when large numbers of people consult the site.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times