The head of Belgium’s Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government’s decision to give booster shots to almost the entire population.
On Friday, Flemish health minister Wouter Beke announced that “the Flemish Government is asking for a third dose for all over-12s,” while calling on the Superior Health Council to provide clarity on this booster shot “so that the Interministerial Conference on Public Health can also take a quick decision on the matter.”
“Because of the epidemiological evolution, we have decided with the Flemish government that we will continue to focus on vaccination, testing and tracing so that the strength of the virus cannot catch up,” Beke said on Twitter on Friday.
Omwille van de epidemiologische evolutie hebben we met de #VlaReg besloten dat we blijven inzetten op #vaccinatie, testen en tracing zodat de kracht van het virus niet kan bijwinnen. Ontdek hier onze beslissingen.👇@JanJambon https://t.co/WiReSTWvKR
— Wouter Beke (@wbeke) October 22, 2021
So far, only people living in residential care centres, people with weakened immunity and the over-65s can receive a booster shot, accounting for around 480,000 people, according to the latest figures.
However, Dirk Ramaekers, head of the Vaccination Taskforce, argued that there is no scientific basis that a third shot would be needed for the entire population, as there is no evidence that “immunity against the coronavirus is declining in the young, healthy population.”
“Since the summer, we have also been taking into account the fact that the general population may need to be given a third shot, but always based on scientific arguments,” he told La Libre, adding that he would “like to know what the scientific basis is that the Flemish government is using for announcing this third jab now.”
He stressed that a third jab for the entire population is also not the solution to halt the increasing coronavirus figures and that the focus should be on other measures such as the Covid Safe Ticket expansion and wearing face masks indoors.
Ramaekers also pointed to the ethical debate often brought up when third jabs are discussed, arguing that the “top priority now is to donate vaccines to countries where fewer people are vaccinated.”