Brussels starts its coronavirus vaccination campaign to target around 5,000 homeless people on Thursday, the Joint Community Commission (Cocom) announced.
The pilot project, targeting the most vulnerable people in society, will run from a recently created vaccination stand in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode.
“Our goal is to ensure equal access to vaccination and not further marginalise people who do not have access to the digital world or the most vulnerable social categories,” said Mayor Emir Kir in a Cocom press release.
Starting on Thursday, the project, which aims “to bring vaccination closer to the citizens and to make them more aware of the importance of vaccination by making it more accessible to citizens,” will make 120 doses available, but this number is expected to gradually increase.
“This project is part of a broader approach to sensitise the population on vaccination on a local level. The people who benefit from this pilot project are first and foremost the inhabitants of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode and other Brussels communes who are 65 years old or older, as well as people with risk factors,” said Inge Neven, head of the Brussels health inspectorate.
Based on the results of this pilot project and depending on the vaccination coverage of vulnerable groups in the region’s various municipalities, similar initiatives, including registration points or local, targeted awareness-raising actions, may be launched, with the aim of reaching a vaccination coverage rate of 80%.
Brussels’ general vaccination campaign allows residents born in 1975 or earlier, to make a reservation via the Bruvax platform, and all residents born in 1980 or before can add their name to the waiting list to receive surplus vaccines.
At the moment, Brussels is behind Belgium’s other regions when it comes to overall vaccination coverage of the adult population, as 35% of over-18s have received at least one dose, down from 44% in Flanders and 47% in Wallonia.
This week, Wallonia also started its pilot phase of vaccinations for vulnerable groups, including homeless people, undocumented persons and those with mental health challenges or addictions. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be used for this drive.
The newly appointed general delegate of the coronavirus crisis for Wallonia, Lambert Stamatakis, who replaced Yvon Englert after his resignation last week, said he expects all people in the region to have received at least one dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of June.
Meanwhile, in Flanders, Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke said its coronavirus vaccination campaign, with the aim to vaccinate all people over 65 and people with underlying disorders by next week and administer at least one dose in every adult in the region by 11 July.