Over seven million people received their first vaccine dose in Belgium so far, placing the country in the top 10 of countries with the highest vaccination rate in the world, health officials stated during a press conference on Wednesday.
As 75% of adults in Belgium are partially vaccinated, and over 4 in 10 are fully vaccinated, the country's campaign "has now entered the home stretch," according to Gudrun Briat of the Vaccination Taskforce.
"At the global level, Belgium is in the top 10 of countries with the highest vaccination coverage," she said. "Who would have expected this a few weeks ago?"
In mid-June, Belgium briefly topped the ranking of EU countries with the highest vaccination rate, but now dropped to third place in Europe, and now ranks second in terms of vaccines administered daily.
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The taskforce stressed that these results are not only due to the efforts of the experts or the federal and regional authorities, but that they "are the result of a joint dynamic in which we all participated."
Briat also underlined that it is not yet too late for people who are still hesitating or who refused to be vaccinated the first time around. "Sometimes it can indeed do no harm to wait and see, but these days the Delta variant is on the rise," she said, adding that vaccination is a race against the clock.
"You can still get vaccinated, even if you were in doubt a while ago. The vaccination centres will remain open all summer, and they will welcome you with open arms. "
"As Roberto Martinez says: we are only fully satisfied when we reach the top," said Briat, quoting the coach of Belgium's Red Devils football team.
Getting to the top is "within reach" if we take a number of things into account, according to her.
"Firstly, we should all go for our second shot, because against the emerging variants, a full vaccination offers the best protection," Briat said.
Secondly, she stressed that Belgium must continue to vaccinate the most vulnerable population groups, referring specifically to teenagers from 12 to 15 years old with an underlying condition, who can register to get vaccinated from tomorrow/Thursday 1 July.
"They can be registered by their GP to receive priority vaccination in a vaccination centre. All they need to do is make an appointment with their attending physician."
Lastly, everyone has to remain cautious in their contacts with other people, including and perhaps especially those abroad. "We must not forget that we can still spread the virus," she said.