People will be able to rebook their vaccination appointment in function of their holiday plans this summer after all, but the Flemish Care and Health Agency still asks to prioritise getting your jab.
Despite the Agency's repeated calls to hold off on making holiday plans until you have received an invitation to get vaccinated, vaccination centres across the Region are getting an increasing number of requests to move slots according to their holiday plans.
"Holidays are sacred to people," Jan Stroobants, coordinator of vaccination centre Spoor Oost in Antwerp, told Het Nieuwsblad.
According to him, people's enthusiasm to get vaccinated so they can go on holiday is decreasing as well, as the upcoming coronavirus passport also works with a negative PCR test result.
"Holiday plans are the biggest stumbling block for the smooth running of the vaccination campaign," Stroobants said, adding that rebooking slots is not easy because vaccination centres only have a little bit of wiggle room.
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From the moment your invitation is sent, you have 30 days to make an appointment. If the proposed time slot does not work for you, you can choose another free moment, explained Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the Flemish Care and Health Agency.
"As many people want to get vaccinated as soon as possible, however, slots usually fill up pretty quickly, leaving very few free slots open to choose from," he said on Flemish radio.
Despite stressing the importance of making sure you are free for both your first and your second shot, the Agency also "does not come from another planet" and realises that not everyone will be back (in time) for their second appointment, according to Moonens.
"That second jab is important, so do not just ignore it," he said. "It is necessary to increase your protection, especially if coronavirus variants gain ground. And it is also important for your long-term protection."
"However, we know that the puzzle work is easier said than done, especially for families," Moonens said, adding that people who miss the second shot will have a catch-up opportunity after the holidays.
"You will still be able to get the second shot, albeit after a less optimal interval. But that is better than no second shot at all," he said, adding that where and when that will happen is not entirely clear yet.
However, according to Stroobants of the Spoor Oost vaccination centre, the trend is going in the wrong direction, especially when taking into account the series of relaxations that are set to take effect on 9 June.
"Let's not advertise this too much. Especially after 9 June, people will get the feeling that a vaccine is no longer necessary," he said, adding that it "most certainly" still is if Belgium wants to reach the herd immunity threshold of at least 70% vaccinated.
"That is important, both for our health and our freedom," Stroobants said. "If we do not achieve that, we are guaranteed to suffer the consequences this autumn."