All people who refused coronavirus vaccine to be offered second chance
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All people who refused coronavirus vaccine to be offered second chance

Credit: Belga/Benoit Doppagne

All people who fail to turn up for their first coronavirus vaccination appointment will receive a second invitation to be vaccinated at the end of the campaign in Belgium, the Vaccination Task Force announced on Tuesday.

Both doubters and those who initially refused the vaccine will get a second chance, Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the task force said during a press conference held by health institute Sciensano and the National Crisis Centre.

“We are still expecting a lot of deliveries in the third and fourth quarter of this year, but not one vaccine will be lost. Firstly, they will be used to end the ongoing vaccination campaign, and after that, we will give the people who initially refused or hesitated the chance to be vaccinated,” Briat said.

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More than 42% of the adult population in Belgium has received a first vaccine, “which means we are now over half the vaccination grade which should be achieved to control the epidemic,” Briat added.

In the coming weeks, over one million doses per week are expected to be administered across the country, and according to Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke, one in two people living in Flanders should receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by next Monday.

Although the speed of the vaccination rollout in Belgium is increasing, the coverage in the older age groups in Wallonia and Brussels is more than 10% lower than in Flanders, whilst around 38% of French speakers in Belgium said they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, compared to 20% of Flemish people.

Both Wallonia and Brussels have relaunched the vaccination campaigns for older age groups to increase the vaccination intake among older citizens.

What if there are still left-over vaccines?

Briat added that another part of the over 30 million vaccines ordered by Belgium will be donated to the World Health Organisation’s COVAX program, which provides vaccines for poorer countries.

“Then later this year, phase 3 of the vaccination campaign will be initiated, in which vaccines can also be used as a booster, first of all for vulnerable groups, but later on this will be extended to other parts of the population,” Briat explained.

At this point, people of younger age groups in Belgium will also get the chance to be vaccinated, however, this “depends on scientific findings and political decisions,” she said.