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Adherence to the vaccine is growing in Belgium

Authorities are optimistic as the vaccination campaign officially begins in retirement homes.

Authorities are optimistic as the vaccination campaign officially begins in retirement homes.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – On Tuesday, Belgium officially launched its vaccination campaign in nursing homes. The figures speak for themselves: 83% of residents in Wallonia and 92% in Brussels agree to receive the vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech.

However, this is partial data, which also includes part of the nursing staff. In Belgium, it should be remembered that half of the mortality attributed to the coronavirus was recorded in nursing homes.

According to Walloon Minister of Health Christie Morreale, the first dose of the vaccine should be able to be administered to all residents who so wish within the next three weeks. The second dose will follow on time, sufficient stocks being built up.

However, no precise indication has been given as to when the second phase will begin, the one which will concern hospitals and health professionals. It will all depend on Pfizer’s production capacity.

Minister Morreale, however, does not allow herself to be locked into the timetable set by the American-German pharmaceutical firm. She is betting on the arrival of competing vaccines. “We vaccinate according to the arrival of doses. If we have good news about Moderna’s vaccine, which we are told could be released in early February, we can speed up the process. Our hopes also go to AstraZeneca, where 7 million doses have been secured, ”she says.

Are not Germany and the UK one step ahead? “If we reduce the number of vaccinated to the scale of Wallonia, we are going twice as fast as in Germany!”, Retorts the socialist. “All the methods are laudable but we see that there are stockouts there, which will generate other types of frustration.”

Belgium has already secured more than 22 million doses. She expects to receive 300,000 in January, or 150,000 people a priori vaccinated. That may not seem like much compared to a strong demographic of over 11 million people. In reality, this is unexpected for the authorities who have faced in recent months the disbelief of part of the population, doubtful about the ability of vaccines to defeat the coronavirus and anxious about the appearance of possible side effects. .

60% of the population

To convince on a large scale, a first campaign was launched which bet on “the critical spirit of the population” without “falling into the bludgeon”. Another must follow. Communicators are advancing on rather favorable ground, the “anti-vaccine” -type events never having really taken hold here.

Membership figures obtained today from nursing homes confirm a trend noted two weeks ago by the Sciensano Public Health Institute, this time among young people. 60% of the population 18 years and over say they want to be vaccinated, 10% more compared to a survey delivered in September.

The hope of a return to normal life is unsurprisingly one of the main motivations for those who favor vaccination.

The pressure, it is true, is hardly weakening. After the arrival last week of a variant from the United Kingdom, another has reportedly caused several outbreaks of contamination in Kempen (north-east of the country) in recent days. His DNA is currently being tested, but there is no evidence yet that he is more contagious according to health authorities.


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