Flanders is first in Europe to give 70% of population first vaccination

Flanders is first in Europe to give 70% of population first vaccination
Credit: Belga

As of Tuesday, 70% of the entire population in Flanders has received its first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, making the Region the first in Europe to reach that threshold, according to Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke.

Nearly 4.7 million people in Flanders (70%) have received their first dose, which means that it is very close to reaching its goal of giving all adults at least one shot by 11 July after all - something which no longer seemed feasible due to delivery issues and the age limit for the Johnson & Johnson jab at the end of May.

"After Iceland and the United Kingdom, Flanders has the highest vaccination rate of all," Beke told the Flemish Parliament's Welfare Committee on Tuesday.

However, this figure only concerns people who received their first shot, not those who have been fully vaccinated (one dose of J&J, two doses for the others), which is the threshold needed for herd immunity.

On top of that, that threshold, which was initially estimated to be around 70%, has already been raised to at least 80% due to the increased circulation of more infectious variants.

Still, reaching 70% is a "particularly important new milestone," according to Beke.

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For the adult part of the Flemish population, only 14,653 invitations still have to be sent out, and only 86,000 people have refused to be vaccinated so far.

Soon, the catch-up vaccinations for the about 300,000 who missed their first shot will start, but those who refused will also get another chance, Beke said.

"They still have the chance to change their minds and register," he said, explaining that they can withdraw their refusal themselves via the Qvax platform, and that they will also be offered a new (last) chance by mail, e-mail and e-box.

According to the latest figures by the Sciensano national health institute on Tuesday, 64.5% of the entire Belgian population has received its first shot. Among the adult population, the figure rises to 79.6%.

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