Employees at the Pfizer production plant in Belgium will be vaccinated next week, the company said, to ensure they are able to keep up with demand for vaccines.
The American pharmaceuticals company has a production facility in Puurs in Antwerp province, from where it will service European customers for the vaccine, developed with German company BioNTech.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved for use in the United Kingdom and the EU, and is now being rolled out in Belgium, first to the residents of care homes, and later to hospital staff and medical professionals.
In the meantime, and outside the government’s vaccination strategy, Pfizer plans to vaccinate its own personnel, with the aim of ensuring staff are healthy and available to work while demand for vaccines is at its height.
The week, the European Union announced it would double its order for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 600 million doses. At the same time, a second vaccine from Moderna has been approved for use in the EU. Belgium has placed an order for two million doses, which since each patient requires two doses, is enough for one million people.
Rumours that Pfizer was planning to vaccinate its own workforce were initially denied, but the company has now confirmed the plan.
“A number of internal discussions took place about whether or not to vaccinate, but the decision was eventually taken,# said spokesperson Koen Colpaert. “Our employees in Puurs, all together some 3,000 people, are jointly responsible for the smooth and fast production and delivery of the corona vaccine. They should not drop out due to illness now.”
The vaccine will be restricted to employees who are working at the plant in Puurs itself, while those who are working from home or in the offices of the commercial department will wait their turn along with members of the general public.
“We will continue even after this vaccination round to observe all of the necessary corona protections – face masks, hand gel, social distancing and so on – Colpaert stressed.
The Brussels Times