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Coronavirus booster campaign begins in Belgium
Belgian health authorities have announced that the Covid-19 situation is under control, but “new waves of infection cannot be excluded”, particularly as winter approaches.
Brussels health minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) has warned that “the first signs of a new outbreak are already making themselves known”.
Belgium has therefore launched a new booster campaign this month, which started in Brussels on 16 September, and in Flanders and Wallonia on 19 September.
“On the one hand, we want to protect vulnerable people… and on the other keep the pressure on the health system under control,” said Nathalie Noël, deputy director of the cabinet of Brussels minister Didier Gosuin.
The campaign is targeted at risk groups including health workers, the over-65s, pregnant women, people suffering from obesity and care home residents - in Brussels a group of more than 320,000 people.
Wallonia’s health and welfare agency AVIQ said that special attention should also be paid to 50-65 year olds who consume large quantities of alcohol and/or smoke and to those who do not do any sport.
For the first time since 2020, this new vaccination campaign will be entirely managed by primary healthcare workers.
A special role is given to pharmacies. Some 200 are taking part in the Brussels region, although they are not authorised to vaccinate children aged 12 and under.
Doctors, medical centres, home help nurses and hospitals will also play their part in the new initiative, administering vaccines and providing information.
In addition, in Wallonia, five vaccination centres will be opened in Braine-l’Alleud, Charleroi, Liège, Tournai and Verviers.
The government is not targeting non-risk groups in this campaign. However, people who do want a Covid-19 booster jab can ask their chemist for a free vaccination, with specific invitations not necessary.
From mid-October, the government hopes that the flu vaccine will also be given to vulnerable groups. This can be carried out at the same time or at intervals, with the Covid vaccine always administered first. The dedicated vaccination centres in Wallonia can offer this double jab.