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Waiting lists for flu vaccinations

17:11 13/10/2020

Brussels pharmacies have 45,000 flu vaccinations in stock, which is not enough to keep up with demand. Another shipment is on the way, but patients are being prioritised by age and health conditions.

Citizens are showing much more interest in flu jabs this year, concerned about getting the flu on top of a possible coronavirus infection. Health-care workers are also being told to get a vaccination against the flu. In a normal year, Belgium orders 2.5 million flu jabs, which is plenty to cover requests. This year an extra 500,000 have been ordered.

Health-care workers are one of the priority groups who will be sold a vaccination first, as well as anyone aged 50 and older. Normally, a prescription is required to get a flu jab at the pharmacy, but this year they can be bought by anyone aged 50 and over without a prescription. They must then be taken to a physician to be administered.

If healthy, maybe skip it

Until 15 November, pharmacies can only sell flu jabs to specific groups, such as 50-plussers, pregnant women, health-care workers and the chronically ill. After 15 November, they can be opened up to others, but it’s possible the stock will run out before then. Pharmacists are compiling waiting lists for anyone who wants a jab.

The Belgian Pharmaceutical Association, however, is asking people under the age of 65 who are perfectly healthy to consider not requesting a flu vaccine this year. “Give priority to health-care workers and to the more vulnerable among us,” a spokesperson said. “We have to absolutely avoid healthy people getting a flu vaccination at the cost of at-risk patients and health-care personnel.”

The good news is that coronavirus measures, including social distancing and wearing facemasks, will do much to curb the spread of the flu virus as well, so an epidemic could very well be avoided.

Photo ©Geber86/Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw