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Belgium vaccinates equally

The three regions of the country are simultaneously launching a test phase on Monday. Large-scale vaccination will begin on January 5.

The three regions of the country are simultaneously launching a test phase on Monday. Large-scale vaccination will begin on January 5.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – Their faces made the headlines. We had to wait a long time, but we eventually learned the names of the people who will receive the vaccine produced by Pfizer / BioNTech first this Monday. In order not to make people jealous, it will be inoculated simultaneously to residents of rest homes located in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia.

Throughout the past week, all that has been discussed has been this covid vaccine produced in Puurs, south of Antwerp, and its shipment to the 27 countries of the European Union. The images showing the departure of refrigerated trucks under close police surveillance were looped on the TVs. The mayor of Puurs, a Flemish municipality made prosperous by the pharmaceutical industry, has given dozens of interviews to the world press, which has come to see on the spot how the “vaccine that will save the planet” is produced.

Once thawed, the first vaccines will be inoculated this Monday at 11 a.m. sharp. But it is not until January 5 that large-scale vaccination can begin. After residents of residential care centers, hospital and front-line staff could be vaccinated from March. This phase will also include centers for the disabled. Then it will be the turn of patients at risk, such as those with chronic illnesses and those over 65. This time we are talking about the month of May, but everything will actually depend on the vaccine supply. However, only Pfizer’s is currently approved in Europe. It also requires two injections to be effective against the coronavirus.

The question is of course to know what proportion of Belgians will agree to be vaccinated, this gesture being voluntary until proven otherwise. According to a study by the Sciensano public health institute, membership is growing among the population. 60% of those 18 and over say they want to be vaccinated when the product becomes available – i.e. + 10% compared to September. Other figures show that young people’s support for vaccination is steadily increasing, this trend being justified by the prospect of a return to normal life. The possible side effects of the vaccine remain for its opponents the main cause of rejection.

Theoretically, to achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population would have to be vaccinated. The authorities are keeping their fingers crossed to achieve this under current conditions. But it is not impossible that in case of failure, compulsory or semi-compulsory vaccination (depending on age category, sector of activity, etc.) be considered. In a recent report, a group of experts working for the federal government recommended that this possibility be debated as soon as possible, so as not to risk once again confronting the public with a fait accompli.

At the end of last week, the bar of 19,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus was exceeded in the kingdom. However, the arrival of vaccines opens up optimistic prospects here as elsewhere, even if the contaminations are struggling to continue their descent and if the dispersion of the VOC 202012/01 variant from the United Kingdom to other European countries requires redoubling of vigilance. For Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, “the vaccine is really the definitive solution. This is also the great hope. The combination of science and our ability to stand together will be the factor of our victory. Because we are going to beat this virus. When? I do not know…”


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