Commission staff in Brussels will be vaccinated in separate centres but without priority
Saturday, 20 February 2021
Staff working at the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO will be vaccinated at the same time as the rest of the population in Belgium.
As previously reported, Brussels health inspectorate announced that people working for international institutions based in Brussels will be vaccinated against the coronavirus in separate vaccination centres. The doses for staff members who are registered as residents in Belgium, around 31,000 persons in total, will be taken from Belgium´s allocation of vaccines.
Asked by The Brussels Times how it will work out in practice, a Commission spokesperson confirmed that in terms of timing and planning the Commission staff will get vaccinated in line with the vaccination campaigns adopted by Belgium and other hosting states.
“The health of our staff is of utmost priority for us and preparation to ensure their vaccination against COVID-19 is underway,” the spokesperson said.
“In Belgium, where most of our staff are located (approximately 21 000 members of staff), we are organising a vaccination campaign via the Commission medical service as part of the vaccination campaign offered by the Belgian authorities to all residents in Belgium.”
Most Commission staff of course do not belong to any priority group, such as health care workers and elderly (retired) people, and will have to wait until phase 1b and phase 2 to get vaccinated. Beyond its staff, the Commission will also involve some decentralized or executive agencies, as well as other EU bodies based in Brussels, who wish to be associated.
According to the spokesperson, the Commission is fully committed to supporting the Belgian health authorities in their vaccination campaign.
“We are helping the Brussels-Capital Region on our own initiative, in order to participate in the collective effort to fight the pandemic. It is for this reason that we take care of the vaccination of our staff. We are following exactly the rules and pace set for the Brussels-Capital Region. In short, Commission staff will be treated in exactly the same way as other Belgian residents.”
The Commission has also been liaising with national authorities to ensure that staff based in all other locations in the EU as well as family members and pensioners, in general, will be vaccinated by the national health authorities in line with national protocols.
Participation in the Commission`s vaccination campaign will be voluntary. The campaign is seen as part of the Commission’s occupational medicine and therefore limited to its staff. “We have received assurances from the Belgian authorities (and other host countries) that families and pensioners are covered by national campaigns.”
The member states are competent to manage the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for their respective population, citizens as well as other residents, the spokesperson assured.
In the past, the EU institutions did not coordinate their measures against the coronavirus. Will it be different this time? “The Commission is in regular contacts with the other institutions to ensure a coordinated approach of the vaccination campaigns, while respecting each institutions’ autonomy. The Commission has contacts, in particular, with the European Parliament and the Council.”