4,000 pharmacists trained to give booster vaccines

4,000 pharmacists trained to give booster vaccines
Credit: Belga

Around 4,000 pharmacists have already completed the training required to administer Covid-19 vaccines, making it easier for Belgian residents to receive their booster shots.

Pharmacists in Belgium were given the green light to vaccinate people last weekend, according to De Standaard, but the role they will play in the overall vaccination strategy of the country isn’t yet clear.

The existing vaccination centres remain the key points for administering vaccines but the extra hands on deck are welcomed in the face of vaccine hesitancy when it comes to booster shots, even among the already-vaccinated.

Sharing the vaccine burden

Until last weekend, only doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives could administer vaccines. But while pharmacists have been added to the list and 4,000 have received the necessary training, the Council of State still has to rule on the matter and then an amendment must go through Parliament.

Overworked doctors are angry at the delays and threatening to take action, saying that their vaccine workload could be significantly reduced by the thousands of willing pharmacists.

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While it isn’t yet known precisely how the pharmacists would be deployed – this is still being discussed – it seems likely they will vaccinate from their pharmacies.

“They will probably vaccinate in their pharmacies, as they are already doing in rapid tests,” said Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the Agency for Care and Health.

“But who will receive a summons for the vaccination centre or who will get one for the pharmacy? That has yet to be finalised. In any case, the vaccination centres will continue to be the main driving force behind the campaign.”

Much of this comes down to speed. This week alone, 360,000 shots will be administered in centres across the country. Currently, 93% of those eligible for booster shots have had their invitation or third shot.

“But it can be useful to reach people who are less likely to come to such centres,” said Moonens. “Every shot is worthwhile.”

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