Belgium's vaccination campaign will enter a new phase in April, when people with an underlying condition between 18 and 65 years old will start receiving their jabs.
The list of people with comorbidities, who are considered at increased risk due to their condition, includes an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million people across the country, according to the Sciensano national health institute.
"At-risk patients do not have to do anything to get on the list," said Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Vaccination Task Force. "Everyone will automatically be invited to be vaccinated at a vaccination centre."
"By the end of the week, all health insurance funds will have drawn up a list of all their members who can be considered high-risk patients based on their medication use," she said, adding that from then on, GPs and specialists can also add patients to those lists.
From 8 April, however, people with underlying conditions will be able to check whether they are on the list or not, via the website www.myhealthviewer.be, where they can log in with their e-ID, Briat explained.
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"If you are on the list, you will see that there," she said. "From then on, you can also go to the website of your health insurance fund for general information, or contact them."
80% of people with an underlying condition are expected to be included in the list by the end of the week, but as GPs will not be able to add all patients at once, people who are not yet on the list on 8 April, are asked to wait a few days and check again later.
"If, a week later, you are still not on the list, but you think you are a high-risk patient who is eligible for priority vaccination, you can contact your GP," said Briat. "Your pharmacist and health insurance can also give you more information, but they cannot put you on the list, only doctors can do that."
In the meantime, the first invitations will be sent, aiming to begin vaccinating the first high-risk patients by 15 April at the latest. As with the elderly, invites will be sent from old to young.
Additionally, patients' privacy is fully guaranteed, stressed Briat. "The list only states whether you are an at-risk patient or not," she said, adding that it does not state the condition someone has.
Who is on the list of high-risk patients?
The Superior Health Council has advised the government on who belongs to this risk group. It concerns people who are at greater risk of ending up in intensive care if they are infected with Covid-19.
Patients aged 45 to 64 years with:
- A chronic respiratory disorder
- A chronic cardiovascular disease
- Obesity (BMI above 30)
- Diabetes type 1 and 2
- A chronic neurological disorder
- A malignant cancerous tumour
- An officially diagnosed high blood pressure.
Patients aged 18 to 64 years with:
- Blood cancer
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic renal insufficiency
- Chronic liver disease
- Down syndrome
- A weakened immune system
- AIDS or HIV
- An officially diagnosed ‘rare disease’
- Organ transplant recipients, or people on the waiting list
The Brussels Times