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EU members disagree on who gets vaccination priority

Credit: Belga

The first vaccinations are planned to take place directly after Christmas but several member states have not yet determined the elderly age group or other priority groups.

In an information letter sent on Wednesday (22 December) to its staff and seen by The Brussels Times, the European Commission provided an overview of priority groups (in no specific order) of COVID-19 vaccination interim recommendations in EU member states and the UK. The list was valid as of 30 November and might have been updated since then.

The Commission has been asking national authorities to prepare as early as possible for organising the fast and accessible deployment of vaccines, according to national vaccination plans and has issued guidance on the large-scale vaccination deployment, but the vaccination plans have not been published.

Instead, the Commission was referring until now to an overview  published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on 2 December of where the member states are with the development of their vaccination plans. The Commission’s information has been gathered from ECDCs survey.

The priority groups are defined as elderly people (in years), adults with comorbidities (underlying conditions), health care workers, and other risk groups (i.e., workers of essential public services other than health; social care workers; others).

Some of the member states have specified the elderly age group and the most common group is 65+ but there are also exceptions such as 70+ (Estonia and Sweden) and 60+ (Hungary, Latvia and the Netherlands). In the UK, 80+ are the first priority. Several countries have not yet specified the elderly age group or indicate that the recommendation is under development.

As regards other risk groups besides health care workers, about half the countries have added workers in essential public services, critical infrastructure and social workers.

Belgium has listed the following priority groups: Elderly 65+, people aged 45 – 65 years with comorbidities, health care workers and other risk groups without specifying them.

M.Apelblat
The Brussels Times