Booster vaccine campaign in Brussels: “The biggest obstacle is convincing people to get jabbed in the first place”
By the end of this month 90% of people in the Brussels-Capital Region that have been fully immunised against coronavirus will have been given an additional booster vaccine. While at first glance it might seem that the booster vaccination campaign in Brussels is coming along in leaps and bounds it must be seen in the context of the capital’s relatively low vaccination rate compared with the country’s other regions
Nowhere else in Belgium is the upsurge in the number of coronavirus infections with the omicron variant greater than in Brussels.
While 92.6% of adult Flemings and 83.4% of adults in Wallonia have been fully immunised against coronavirus this is the case among just 73.6% of adults in Brussels. Meanwhile, 58.9% of adults in Flanders, 47.7% of adults in Wallonia and just 31.2% of adults in the Brussels-Capital Region have received additional “booster” jabs. However, Inge Neve from the Brussels Health Inspectorate says that this percentage is set to greatly increase during the coming weeks.
"We still have to send out appointment invitations to around 100,000 people. These are people for whom the 4-month interval since their last vaccination had not yet passed. This means that by the end of January just about everyone that had been given two doses will have been sent an invitation”.
The question remains as to whether everyone that is sent an invitation will go and get a booster jab. Inge Neven is optimistic that they will do so.
"We now see that around 80% of the over 65s have turned up to get a booster jab. This is a little lower among younger people, but it always takes a bit more time and they were vaccinated later anyway. We will continue to monitor this and hopefully we will end up with good figures”.
The greatest obstacle remains persuading people to go and get their first jab. "If you still haven’t been vaccinated this means that you will have to get three injections. We know that a large number of people already had their doubts as to whether vaccination is the only way out of the COVID crisis. These people have been to a small extent proved right. We are having to go for another jab, and it might not be the last. This of course doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t get vaccinated. The vaccinations provide 90% protection against hospitalisation. So, although the bar has been set higher, the message remains, get yourself vaccinated”, Ms Neven said.
Brussels will continue to deploy busses that act as mobile vaccination centres. Small-scale local vaccination points will also continue to operate in addition to the capital’s 10 large vaccination centres. Ms Neven was also keen to stress the importance of informing the public about coronavirus and the vaccination programme.