Not first, not last: The struggle to give young people answers on vaccines
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Not first, not last: The struggle to give young people answers on vaccines

Credit: Belga

Young people across Belgium have been left struggling to understand the latest changes to the country’s vaccination policy, which seems unable to give a concrete answer on when it will be their turn.

“If we want to give young people prospects, it is not enough to vaccinate them first,” Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said on Wednesday in the programme De Ochtend (VRT). “But that doesn’t mean they will have to wait until the end of the campaign either. We never said that,” he said.

This news follows the announcement that Belgium has decided not to vaccinate the over-55s with the AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being due to a lack of data of the effects on that age bracket.

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“The Superior Health Council sees insufficient evidence to recommend the vaccine with the current data for the over-65s. They recommend limiting use to 18-55-year-olds. They also request additional information. They would be available in six weeks,” said Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke.

This decision will have an impact on the vaccination campaign, Vandenbroucke admitted. The inter-ministerial conference on health, set for Wednesday morning and the Task Force on Vaccination will look into the matter.

Give them to Students?

In the French-language press, the president of the socialist PS party, Paul Magnette, has already suggested reserving this vaccine for students.

“If AstraZeneca’s vaccine is delivered and it is confirmed that it will not be used for more fragile audiences, why not vaccinate students? There would be no point in keeping it in stock, so we might as well use it. I propose this while maintaining the vaccination schedule for the other vaccines,” Magnette added.

Vandenbroucke, however, does not support this.

“I still want to come back to a misunderstanding. If we want to give young people prospects, it is not enough to vaccinate them first. We need to vaccinate quickly enough people so that we don’t have any more smouldering fires. But that doesn’t mean that young people will have to wait until the very end of the vaccination campaign either,” he explained.

Belgium’s Consultative committee will meet on Friday to discuss the latest changes to measures. More information about the agenda will be available later this week, however, it is expected that the reopening of contact professions will be a key point.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times