Shortening the interval between both doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from 12 to eight weeks is not yet possible due to delivery issues.
At the moment, the deliveries are too reliable and there are stock issues with the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to Dirk De Wolf, Administrator General of the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, said on Friday.
“Only when deliveries are guaranteed for the week of 21 June can commitments be made to shorten the interval,” De Wolf said. During that week, Belgium is expecting a delivery of 443,880 doses from the Swedish pharmaceutical company.
Around 744,000 people are still waiting to receive a second shot, of which just over 572,000 are people over the age of 65 or people at high risk. About 310,000 of them will get their second shot after 19 July and about 209,000 after 2 August.
“Once the administration in these people has been effective, we want to give people who will get their second shot from AstraZeneca in August the opportunity to bring their appointment forward,” De Wolf said.
Mid-May, Belgium’s Health Ministers decided that people in Belgium who received an invitation for AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine after 31 May would have to wait just eight weeks to get a second dose instead of after 12, which they hoped would result in the adult population in Belgium being fully vaccinated sooner than expected.
In Belgium, the vaccine is only being administered to people aged over 41, as is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
On Thursday, a preliminary study was published which found that people who receive a second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after receiving a first dose of AstraZeneca’s jab develop better protection against the coronavirus than after getting a second AstraZeneca dose.
Some countries, including France, have switched to a vaccination where people receive two different vaccines, however, in Belgium, the High Health Council (HGR) has not yet issued any recommendations on this.