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Newly approved coronavirus vaccine now available in Brussels

19:18 13/10/2022

A new vaccine that has been adapted to recent variants of the coronavirus is available in Brussels from this Friday.

This vaccine is tailored to protect against the omicron BA-4/BA-5 variant, according to the Joint Community Commission (Cocom) of the Brussels-Capital Region.

All four of Brussels’ vaccination centres (Pachéco, Molenbeek, Forest and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre) will have the vaccine available on Friday, with a more gradual deployment planned for general practitioners, pharmacies, medical centres and other providers.

Medical experts have already warned that the autumn and winter waves of the virus will not be small ones, and are urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible in advance of the expected rise in the virus’s circulation.

“It is strongly advised to get vaccinated now, knowing that the peak of the epidemic is expected in the second half of October and that it takes at least 10 days for the vaccine to provide effective protection,” Cocom said.

It particularly recommends vaccination for people aged 65 and over, those aged 50 and over with a risk factor, people who are immunocompromised and healthcare workers.

Double vaccination against both the coronavirus and the seasonal flu will be possible in Brussels vaccination centres from Saturday onwards, so long as people bring their own flu serum, which is available in pharmacies.

Brussels health minister Alain Maron said that 55,690 booster doses had already been administered in the city over the course of four weeks, but the vaccination campaign in the capital still lags behind that of Flanders.

But unlike Wallonia, which also lags behind the Flemish region in terms of vaccination, Brussels seems to be slowly catching up and virologist Steven Van Gucht said there was no cause for concern for the time being.

Just 7% of Brussels residents and 11% of Wallonia residents have had an autumn booster, compared to 30% of those in Flanders.

“We have seen similar figures in previous vaccination campaigns,” said Van Gucht. “Wallonia also lagged behind Flanders then, but caught up to some extent.”

The Brussels catch-up has already begun, according to Cocom spokesperson France Dammel.

“While we only had 7,000 autumn boosters in the first week of the campaign, that number has since risen to more than 21,000 per week as of last week,” Dammel told De Standaard.

One possible explanation for the differences in numbers between Brussels and Flanders is that Brussels has chosen to only send reminder letters to people over 50, whereas Flanders sent them more widely.

The campaign also started earlier in the Flemish region and residents there have shown higher willingness to be vaccinated against the coronavirus overall.

This latest booster is the second of its type, or the fourth shot in total for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

Written by Helen Lyons