New Belgian vaccination campaign to start in September
A new vaccination campaign against the coronavirus will start in September. This was decided by the Belgian Ministers of Health on Wednesday. The "autumn campaign" will be aimed primarily at the over-50s and healthcare workers, but anyone who wants to will be able to get a repeat shot.
"The pandemic is clearly not over yet," Dirk Ramaekers, head of the Belgian Vaccination Taskforce, said during an online press conference. "We are currently in the seventh wave, there are substantially more admissions to hospitals and they are still increasing." According to Ramaekers, COVID will continue to trouble us in the autumn and winter and we can expect new waves. "But vaccination is and will remain our main line of defence."
The group of over-65s and people with weakened immune systems will receive a proactive invitation to an "autumn booster". Healthcare personnel in hospitals and primary care (general practitioners, pharmacists, home nurses) are the second priority group. The group aged 50 to 64 is also invited.
People over 85 who already received a second booster shot in June will be eligible for another one in the autumn. The same applies to the residents of residential care centres. Remarkably, although the latter category received an offer for a second booster shot, only 52 percent accepted. "And that is absolutely too little", according to Flemish Minister of Public Health Hilde Crevits. An extra call was therefore made last week in the residential care centres.
For the group aged 18 to 50, there is insufficient scientific data to launch a mass campaign. For them, however, a booster will be possible on an individual basis. In Flanders, this group already receives an individual invitation by letter, said Minister Crevits. For the group from 6 to 17 years old, it is waiting for additional scientific data whether this group should receive an "autumn booster". Therefore, no repeat injection is planned for them. An exception is made for young people doing a work placement in the healthcare sector.
The Ministers of Health are now calling on people who have not yet had their first booster shot to do so. No less than 1.7 million Belgians have not yet done so and are therefore almost no longer protected against the coronavirus.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK