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Vaccination

Why should I get vaccinated?

The vaccine stimulates your body to create antibodies. These substances help your body fight the virus. What if you come into contact with the virus afterwards? The antibodies will protect you.

The vaccine not only protects you but also the people around you. Coronavirus is dangerous for people older than 65 or persons that have certain conditions. If over 70% of the population in Belgium is vaccinated, the spread of the virus will be inhibited. This, in turn, will protect the people who cannot have the vaccination. This is known as herd immunity.

Vaccination against coronavirus is voluntary and free to all.

You must continue to comply with the coronavirus rules after vaccination, until sufficient people have been vaccinated. So, maintain a 1.5 metre distance, wear a face mask and wash your hands frequently.

Is the vaccine safe?

  • There was already a great deal of expertise about the creation of vaccines. Scientists, pharmaceutical specialists, businesses and governments across the world worked together on the coronavirus vaccine. A great deal of time and money has been freed up in order to tackle this urgent problem. As a result, the vaccines have been developed very quickly.
  • All vaccines, however, are checked extremely carefully by the government. More information here.

When will I get my vaccine?

Month Who
January residents and personnel in residential care centres + healthcare staff (doctors, nurses, etc.) in hospitals
February personnel from first line care (GPs, pharmacists, etc.) + collective care institutions (disability care, etc.) and other hospital staff
March everyone aged 65 and above
April people with a higher risk due to specific healthcare issues (see further)
June everyone over the age of 18

These timings could change.

Practical: how does the vaccine process work?

  • You will receive an invitation by post, text message and/or email.
  • You must register online or by phone.
  • Is the time of your appointment not suitable? Then you can choose another time.

During your appointment:

  • You will be given an injection in your upper arm.
  • A few weeks after the first injection, you will be given your second injection. At the moment, each vaccine requires two doses, except for the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
  • After vaccination, it takes between 10 and 14 days before your body begins to make antibodies. Only then do you have the best possible protection against the virus.

Overview of vaccinations and deliveries

How many vaccines have already been administered, how many have been delivered? You can find an overview in this chart - Update 18 March.

This chart is updated every Saturday.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

    Why should I be vaccinated?
    • In order to ensure the best possible effectiveness of the vaccine among the population, and to create herd immunity, at least 70% of Belgians must be vaccinated. Herd immunity means that a sufficiently large group of individuals have built up immunity to the virus, which then hinders or stops its transmission entirely. This will stop the virus from spreading through the population and will prevent a serious epidemic with the corresponding lockdown measures. It will also protect people who cannot be vaccinated (e.g. pregnant women, cancer patients undergoing acute treatment or those with a serious allergy history to vaccines (a type of anaphylactic shock)).
    • If too few people are vaccinated, the virus will continue to spread and herd immunity will not be achieved. As a result, too many people will be at risk of infection. This will lead to an epidemic and the corresponding lockdown measures.
    • The quicker the vaccination level rises, the quicker the measures can be relaxed. An infected but vaccinated person will then infect fewer people.
    • This does not mean, however, that we will be able to go back to normal as soon as vaccinations start. The relaxation will take place gradually as not everyone can be vaccinated at the same time. People will receive their vaccines in different phases, which will be set by the government. So, as long as there are still a lot of infected people, there is a serious risk of new waves and the measures must stay in place and be enforced.
    • We are trying to realise herd immunity step-by-step using the vaccine. Even then, you should be aware that there is an ongoing risk of local flare-ups.
    • Becoming infected with COVID-19 can also be risky for young, healthy people. We have seen that even healthy people can become seriously ill as a result of the virus and may suffer long-term symptoms, such as lung damage.
    What is a vaccine and how does it work?

    *A vaccine against a viral infection includes an element of the virus itself. When we vaccinate people, we introduce an element of the virus into the human body, usually via an injection (e.g. vaccinations that you receive against hepatitis B and so on, as a child). Injecting an element of the virus into your body makes it create antibodies to the virus.

    • This is how vaccines ‘train’ your immune system. When a vaccine is administered, your body thinks it has the virus. As a result, it will create antibodies. This prepares the body and the immune system for a genuine viral infection.
    • The advantage of vaccination is that you do not have to go through the illness itself and do not run the risk of the corresponding serious or even life-threatening complications.
    • All COVID-19 vaccines essentially work in the same way, but there are major differences in how they are put together. They all share one feature: they all train the immune system.
    Which vaccines are available for COVID-19 at the moment?
    • It is extremely important that vaccines provided in Europe have all been checked by the European Medicines Agency. The EMA conducts incredibly stringent checks on all medicines that may be prescribed or offered in Europe. This also applies to vaccines. These stringent checks focus on the safety of the vaccine, its effectiveness (does it really work?) and its quality. If all the data for the vaccines fulfils the checks, there will be a ruling by the European Commission and these vaccines will be available for use in our country.
      • On 21 December 2020, the EMA issued a positive opinion on the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and it was then approved by the European Commission. On 28 December, this vaccine was administered for the first time in 3 Belgian residential care centres (Puurs, Brussels and Mons). Since 5 January, the vaccine has been provided in all residential care centres and to carers in hospitals that can store the vaccine at extremely low temperatures (the so-called ‘hub hospitals).In the meantime, the vaccine from Moderna has also been approved (on 6 January 2021). Other candidate vaccines will also be examined over the course of time, including the vaccines from Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson or CureVac.
    Is the vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory?
    • No. As with most vaccines in our country, vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary.
      • The vaccination will be offered free of charge in Belgium.
    How many doses of the vaccine must I have?
    Most of the vaccines that have been approved (Pfizer and Moderna), or which are currently going through the approval process of the European Medicines Agency (Astra Zeneca/Oxford and CureVac) are provided via 2 doses, which are given within a few weeks of one another (3 weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and 4 weeks for the others).
    Do I need a vaccine if I've already had COVID-19?
    • At the moment, there is no certainty as to whether someone who has already had COVID-19 has immunity against the disease, and/or for how long. There have been reports of re-infections. Also, it not feasible to check whether people have antibodies in their blood against COVID-19, to establish whether or not they need a vaccine.
    • Vaccination is not mandatory but it means you are protecting yourself and others. Vaccines train the immune system in healthy people, in case they become (re) infected with the actual virus.
    Which checks are carried out on the effectiveness and the corresponding side effects from the vaccine?
    Once the vaccine has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, and enters the European market, a leaflet will be developed for the public at large (found in the pack with the vaccine). There is also a so-called scientific leaflet that is provided to doctors and similar. This has now been completed for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FMAHP) will publish the leaflets on its website (www.faff-afmps.be) once they are available in our three languages and a few additional languages.
    Where can we see how many people have already been vaccinated?
    The website of Sciensano provides a daily update on the number of vaccinated people in our country: https://datastudio.google.com/embed/u/0/reporting/c14a5cfc-cab7-4812-848c-0369173148ab/page/hOMwB
    Do I need to be tested before I am given the vaccine?
    No, you do not have to be tested for antibodies before vaccination. Even if you are infected without realising, the vaccine can be administered safely.
    I have mobility issues. How can I obtain my vaccine?
    People with mobility issues should work with their local governments to find solutions. This could include mobile teams or using a taxi. An explanation of how this will work will be provided as quickly as possible.
    What are the differences between the vaccines?

    Scientists have developed various types of vaccine to combat COVID-19. All these vaccines target our immune systems safely in order to ‘train’ it to fight coronavirus. The body is thus prepared for a genuine coronavirus infection.

    Different types of potential COVID-19 vaccines are under development:

    1. Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that is inactivated or weakened so that it does not cause the illness but does generate an immune response.
    2. Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of protein or protein casings which mimic the COVID-19 virus in order to generate an immune response.
    3. Viral vector vaccines, which use a virus that is genetically modified so it cannot cause illness, but does produce coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response.
    4. RNA and DNA-vaccines, an advanced approach which uses genetically modified RNA or DNA to generate a protein which then safely generates an immune response.
    Which vaccines has Belgium ordered?
    On 21 December 2020, the EMA issued a positive opinion on the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and it was then approved by the European Commission. On 28 December, this vaccine was administered for the first time in 3 Belgian residential care centres (Puurs, Brussels and Mons). Since 5 January, the vaccine has been provided in all residential care centres and to carers in hospitals that can store the vaccine at extremely low temperatures (the so-called ‘hub hospitals).In the meantime, the vaccine from Moderna has also been approved (on 6 January 2021). Other candidate vaccines will also be examined over the course of time, including the vaccines from Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson or CureVac.

Is the corona vaccine safe?

    Is the coronavirus vaccine safe, given that it has been developed so quickly?

    COVID-19-vaccines have been developed according to the same stringent, statutory requirements for pharmaceutical quality, safety and effectiveness as all other medicines. This vaccine has been developed so quickly because parties across the world (producers, researchers, and governments) have all made it their collective priority.

    The various phases of the vaccine’s development are:

    1. In the initial phase, the developer subjects the vaccine to stringent testing. This includes checking the quality of the vaccine and, more specifically, its components and the production process.
    2. There is then a scientific evaluation conducted by the regulatory authorities. These include the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators in EU/EER countries.
    3. The effectiveness of the vaccine is then tested by the developer. This takes the form of laboratory testing.
    4. If everything goes well, the vaccines can be tested on human volunteers. This includes 3 clinical testing phases, each with a larger number of participants. This testing programme must be conducted in accordance with procedures and protocols set out by the regulators. This is also approved by the Medical Ethics Commission.
    5. After completion of the testing programme, the developer will present the results to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Ultimately, approval will only be given if the EMA receives thorough, scientific evidence which clearly demonstrates that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.
    Why has a safe, workable and quality vaccine been developed much quicker than usual?

    With respect to COVID-19, the development and possible approval of a vaccine has been given priority on all levels due to the public health emergency; the process has therefore been much quicker than normal.

    • Production: The producer was allowed to overlap the various development phases for the vaccines; i.e. phase 3 studies could start at the same time as phase 2 studies. This does not mean that the vaccines are less safe though as each phase has been completed correctly. Like all medicines, COVID-19 vaccines are tested in a laboratory and in pre-clinical and clinical trials (phases 1, 2 and 3). At every step of the way, the same strict requirements have been applied as for other medicines. They have also been tested on a broad target group.
    • Approval: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has engaged a taskforce of specialists to give priority to the COVID-19 evaluation procedures. Requests from companies are thus rapidly evaluated and robust, scientific advice can be assured.
    • Worldwide: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of COVID-19 vaccines have been prioritised across the globe.
    • Extensive experience and expertise: the development of vaccines against COVID-19 will also be accelerated by the expertise accumulated over the past few years in relation to the development of vaccines for other SARS/coronaviruses. Some companies and research institutes have been able to build on existing constructions to make their vaccine.
    • More resources: additionally, more resources have been mobilised and pooled from the outset, whereas in a normal development these are spread over a longer period of time (both in the pharmaceutical companies and in the competent authorities).

    The process of development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines is, therefore, more efficient. No important steps have been skipped in the evaluation and these vaccines must meet the same requirements as all other vaccines. Only when there is sufficient evidence that a vaccine is safe, effective and of a good quality, will a positive opinion for its market authorisation be issued.

    It has been developed so quickly, is there any certainty about long-term side effects?
    • Firstly, it is important to know that a vaccine can only be approved if its effectiveness, quality and safety has been sufficiently demonstrated. That is why phase 3 of the clinical trials is so important.
      • During the clinical trials, the vaccines are given to large groups over multiple phases; it is often given to ten thousand people in the last phase (3)**. This number for the coronavirus vaccine was considerably higher than most vaccines, i.e. between 30,000 and 60,000 people. Thanks to these studies, we can see whether there may be any potential side effects. Most side effects become apparent within six weeks of vaccination. These are then picked up during clinical studies.
      • The chance of serious side effects once the vaccine has been approved, is therefore very small. Nevertheless, they cannot be ruled out entirely. This applies not only to the COVID-19 vaccines, but to all vaccines and medicines. That is why we keep monitoring the vaccine even after approval.
      • For the coronavirus vaccine, a special European monitoring system has been set up. We can then intervene quickly if necessary.
    What if there are side effects?
    • Even after approval of a vaccine, the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) carries on monitoring the vaccine and studies. Just as they do with medicines or other vaccines. Everyone medicine or vaccine has some side effects. Most are mild or don’t last long.
    • For the coronavirus vaccine, a special European monitoring system has been set up. We can then intervene quickly if necessary.
    • What if someone experiences side effects after vaccination, that are not indicated in the vaccine leaflet? These can be reported to the FAMHP. Specialists from the FAMHP will assess the side-effect. This type of finding will also be shared worldwide. By publishing this data on a large scale, any clear issues can be picked up more quickly.
    • What if there is an unusual effect or something goes wrong with the quality of a medicine or vaccine? Then the FAMHP will assess the issue and take action where necessary. For example, by modifying the leaflet or warning carers. In the worst case, the medicine or vaccine will be taken off the market.
    • side effects from the vaccine can be reported on https://www.fagg.be/nl/bijwerking
    Do some vaccines change your DNA?
    • No. An mRNA vaccine does not change your DNA but introduces a code with instructions for mRNA from the virus' S protein into the body so that the body can read the code and create virus proteins. The immune system can then make antibodies and the body can respond rapidly when it is confronted with the actual virus.
    • The variant with the genetic code that sits within the vaccine cannot combine with the host’s genome, i.e. DNA. In the body, it is converted into spike proteins within a cell. The bits of this protein thus become visible to the defence cells in the body, which then create antibodies that can recognise the virus. Eventually, the vaccine is broken down again naturally by the body. It makes no changes to the DNA.
    Will the vaccine protect me if the virus mutates?
    • Almost all viruses mutate. This means that the genetic material in the virus changes. This occurs at different speeds in different viruses. Mutations do not necessarily impact upon the effectiveness of a vaccine in combating the virus.
    • Some vaccines remain effective for many years after their development and can offer long-term protection, such as measles or rubella vaccines. On the other hand, virus strains for diseases such as the flu change and the composition of the vaccine must be modified each year in order to be effective.
    • The scientific community and supervisors will constantly check whether coronavirus is changing and/or the vaccines can still protect people against infection with the new variant.
    • If it becomes clear that modifications are required, science will offer an answer just like it has for other viruses which have also required modifications.
    Is it safe if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
    • The data that is currently available is insufficient to provide an opinion on the safety of vaccines during pregnancy. The recommendation is to avoid vaccinations during pregnancy. If you are trying to become pregnant, you are also advised against accepting the first dose of the vaccine.
    • Women of childbearing age who are trying to have children are advised to only become pregnant two months after the second vaccination.
    • If you discover that you are pregnant once you have had the first dose of vaccine, the pregnancy will be prioritised and you will not be given the second dose. Breast feeding will also be prioritised and the vaccination will be delayed until this has stopped.
    How much time must I leave between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines?

    Here, we apply the general rule for vaccinations with inactivated vaccines: the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after another inactivated vaccine, such as the flu or pneumococcal vaccines. The same goes for other inactivated vaccines such as whooping cough or human papillomavirus vaccines.

    If the 14 day interval is not respected, and is shortened, the vaccines remain valid and no further vaccinations need to be provided. This allows any side effects to be attributed to the correct vaccine.

    Can children get the vaccine?
    COVID-19 vaccine research has only just started in children and therefore there are very limited data on safety and immunogenicity in this group. For this reason, COVID-19 vaccines are currently not routinely recommended for children and adolescents under the age of 16 (for the Pfizer vaccine).
    Do you need to get vaccinated if you have developed COVID-19 and/or if you are HIV-positive?
    • It cannot be confirmed today that someone who has already come into contact with COVID-19 also remains immune to the disease.
    • Unfortunately, there are reports of re-infections and it is not yet known whether and for how long you will be immune if you have been ill.
    • Vaccination is not an obligation but it does ensure that you protect yourself and others. Vaccines train the immune system in case the disease really strikes (again). This way, the body and immune system are prepared in case the virus strikes again.
    • Moreover, it is virtually impossible ahead of the vaccine rollout whether someone has COVID-19 antibodies in their blood.
      • The phase 3 clinical trials include broad target groups, including HIV-seropositive people. Analyses of the different groups will be presented and analysed in detail by the regulators.
    • Also in the Pfizer and Moderna phase 3 trials, COVID-19 positive participants were included with a similar side effect profile as the COVID-19 negative participants.
    I am chronically ill, how do I know whether I am eligible for vaccination?
    In Phase 3 clinical trials, the results of several patients with chronic diseases (diabetes, pulmonary disease, etc.) were analysed. The analysis of these groups will allow us to provide more specific responses later on. That is why an individual analysis of the benefits and risks must always be made for each patient. (zou ik weglaten) Just under 50% of participants in Pfizer’s COVID19 Phase 3 vaccination trial had a co-morbidity. The side-effects and efficacy (with the exception of people with cancer) in this group were very similar to those of the participants without co-morbidity. However, not all chronic diseases are represented in clinical trials.
    Can I have the vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
    If you are breastfeeding, you can be given the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. You do not have to stop breastfeeding. Although there are no scientific studies on the safety of these vaccines for the nursing baby, it is assumed that these vaccines are safe as there is no live virus involved and because the vaccine components are broken down very quickly in the woman’s body. Read the recommendation of the Superior Health Council for vaccinating pregnant women, women wishing to conceive and breastfeeding mothers against SARS-CoV-2 using an mRNA vaccine https://www.health.belgium.be/en/report-9622-vaccination-against-covid-19-pregnant-women
    Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant or trying to conceive?

    Pregnant women are not recommended for routine COVID-19 vaccination. However, vaccination can be considered if you are

    • at a higher risk of being infected with coronavirus, for example women working in the health care sector;
    • at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to certain underlying conditions.

    Women wishing to conceive can have the COVID-19 vaccine. However, you should avoid getting pregnant until after the second dose, unless you are

    • at a higher risk of being infected with coronavirus, for example women working in the health care sector;
    • at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to certain underlying conditions.

    If you do become pregnant after the first vaccination, the second dose will be administered depending on your specific situation.

    Read the recommendation of the Superior Health Council for vaccinating pregnant women, women wishing to conceive and breastfeeding mothers against SARS-CoV-2 using an mRNA vaccine https://www.health.belgium.be/en/report-9622-vaccination-against-covid-19-pregnant-women

Who will get the vaccine and when?

    Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?
    • The vaccines will be produced continuously and quantity available will increase as they are delivered.
    • Pending their large-scale production, several steps should be planned to best protect the most vulnerable groups and gradually increase individual immunity.
    Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?
    • Vaccines will be produced continuously and the available quantities will increase as deliveries take place. Over time, there will be enough vaccines for everyone.
    • While waiting for production in large quantities, various steps must be planned in so that the most vulnerable groups can be protected and individual immunity is gradually increased.
    Will the vaccine be immediately available to everyone?
    • No. Vaccines will be produced continuously and the available quantities will increase as deliveries take place. While waiting for production in large quantities, various steps must be planned in so that the most vulnerable groups can be protected and individual immunity is gradually increased. (Read more under question 4 ‘Which are the priority groups?")
    • At the moment, it is hard to say precisely when vaccines will be provided. That is why the gradual provision of the vaccine to priority groups is vital.
    Can everyone be vaccinated at the same time?
    • No. Vaccines will be produced continuously and the available quantities will increase as deliveries take place. While waiting for production in large quantities, various steps must be planned in so that the most vulnerable groups can be protected and individual immunity is gradually increased. (Read more under question 4 ‘Which are the priority groups?")
    • At the moment, it is hard to say precisely when vaccines will be provided. That is why the gradual provision of the vaccine to priority groups is vital.
    Who is included in the priority groups?

    In order to expand the immunity of the population and protect the most vulnerable people against the virus, the vaccination must take place over three phases, depending on the number of available doses.

    GROUP 1a

    In the first instance, the most vulnerable and exposed people will receive the vaccine.

    • Residents and employees in residential care centres and collective care institutions: since the outbreak of the pandemic, COVID-19 has hit the elderly particularly hard, principally those in residential care centres. They will be vaccinated first, then the corresponding staff (including volunteers), followed by collective care institutions.
    • Medical personnel from first-line care and hospitals: they are in close contact with COVID-19 patients every day. To protect them, they will be prioritised for vaccination.
    • The other staff in hospitals and healthcare centres will be vaccinated, including organisations which work in prevention activities, such as vaccination centres and cancer screening centres, Child and Family and ONE.

    This first phase will require a special organisation and infrastructure (extremely low storage temperatures, multiple doses, and so on).

    GROUP 1b : vulnerable people without acute medical issues, but at high risk

    In this phase, it is expected that vaccines will become available on a large scale. It will then be possible to vaccinate larger groups of people. Priority will be given to people outside hospitals, who are at the highest risk. It concerns the following groups:

    • People over the age of 65 : people older than 65 will be a priority in this phase. If there is sufficient vaccine available, these people will be vaccinated simultaneously. Otherwise, we will start with the oldest people and then go down through the age groups.
    • People between 45 and 65 with an increased risk: People aged between 45 and 65 with risk factors such as:
    • Diabetes,
    • Hypertension,
    • Chronic cardiovascular, lung, kidney and liver disease, haematological cancers up to 5 years after diagnosis,
    • All recent cancers (or recent treatments against cancer)
    • Obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 30).

    The detailed lists will be published after scientific advice.

    • Essential roles: This phase will include people who fulfil essential social and/or economic roles. In the second phase, we can expect logistical issues to have been ironed out so that the provision of the vaccine to these target groups will run more smoothly.

    GROUP 2 - broader population

    Thirdly, the vaccine will be available in sufficient quantities to provide it to the rest of the population.

    In this phase, it is likely that the vaccine will be stored and administered like other vaccines (e.g. flu).

    Can children have the vaccine?
    COVID-19 vaccine researchers are only just beginning to focus on children so there is very limited data on safety and immunogenicity (the capacity to create antibodies) in this group. For this reason, COVID-19 vaccines are not routinely recommended for children and youngsters under the age of 16 (for the Pfizer vaccine).
    I have a chronic sickness, how do I know if I can be vaccinated?
    • In Phase 3 of the clinical studies, the results from various patients with chronic diseases (diabetes, lung disease and so on) were analysed. Just under 50% of the participants in the Pfizer COVID-19 phase 3 vaccination study had a co-morbidity. The side effects and effectiveness (with the exception of people with cancer) were very similar to participants without co-morbidity. Not all chronic diseases, however, were represented in the clinical studies.
    • In order to know which people with chronic diseases will be prioritised for vaccination, the Belgian Health Council will issue a recommendation which will then be published.
    Do you need to be vaccinated if you have developed COVID-19 and/or you are HIV-positive?
    • At the moment, there is no certainty as to whether someone who has already had COVID-19 has immunity against the disease.
    • There are unfortunately some reports of reinfection and it is currently impossible to say how long you remain immune once you have had the virus.
    • Vaccination is not mandatory but it means you are protecting yourself and others. Vaccines train the immune system, in case it has to face the actual virus again. This prepares the body and the immune system for a (repeat) viral infection.
    • It is also impossible to check everyone to see if they have antibodies against COVID-19 in their blood as part of the vaccine roll-out.
    • Phase 3 of the clinical studies encompass many target groups, including HIV-positive people. Analyses of the various groups in detail will be presented and analysed by the regulatory bodies. The phase 3 trials of Pfizer and Moderna also included COVID-19 positive participants with a similar side-effect profile as the COVID-19 negative participants.
    I am a informal caregiver, trainee or PAB-Assistant. When will I be vaccinated?
    If you work as an informal caregiver, trainee or PAB-assistant in a care facility, you can be vaccinated when it is the turn of care providers from your facility. If you work as a private, informal caregiver or PAB-assistant, you will be vaccinated along with the rest of the broader public.
    My family member resides in a care home and is unable to provide informed consent. May I provide my consent?

    Just like other vaccinations, consent for a person who is unable to provide their own informed consent will be requested from one of the following people:

    • the holder of the medical power of attorney
    • the scientific representative (if the holder of the medical power of attorney is unavailable)
    • the treating physician (if the above are unavailable)
    • the coordinating and advising doctor (none of the above are available).

    The decision by the resident or the representative will be noted in the resident’s care file with the date and the way in which the consent was obtained. If the verbal consent of a competent person cannot be noted in the care file with any certainty (e.g. there is disagreement within the family), you are advised to document the consent in writing.

    Why has Belgium opted for a delayed start?
    Our country has developed a vaccination strategy with the utmost speed. A strict order has been applied so that priority groups are first in line. Account has also been taken of transport and the correct administration processes. According to the current strategy, herd immunity will be realised by September.

Vaccines in practice

    How do I know when I am likely to be vaccinated?
    When it is your turn, you will receive a personal vaccine invitation. Via text message, letter or email. You will have the option to confirm, refuse or move your appointment. The invitation will also say where your vaccination will take place. And if you can’t access this location, for very good reasons, mobile teams may be able to vaccinate you at home.
    Can I be vaccinated by my GP?
    • At the moment, there are various possible scenarios. For phase 1a, a centralised system will be used for the vaccination of residents and staff in residential care centres (WZC), hospital personnel and 1st line healthcare workers (doctors, physiotherapists, district nurses, pharmacists, etc.) This is also the case for phase 1b, with the vaccination of the over-65s and people between 45 and 65 with co-morbidities, if they are sufficiently mobile. In phases 1b and 2, it is possible that there will be a combination of a centralised and decentralised system, with GPs becoming increasingly involved.
    • The most important reasons for a centralised system are the specific storage requirements for the vaccine, such as (extremely) low temperatures and the supply of certain vaccines in multi-dose packs. This means that, in a relatively short time span, hundreds of vaccines must be administered to groups, taking account of the coronavirus measures.
    • In line with several of our neighbouring countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and France, we will roll-out the vaccination strategy in an efficient and controlled manner. This process will use existing structures such as hospitals and vaccination centres as much as possible. In this context, a distinction will be made between phase 1a with centralised vaccination administration to high priority target groups, and phase 1b with the expansion to target groups and the broader availability of vaccines.
    • Only in phase 2 can we talk of broad vaccination for low-risk groups too. The start of each phase will be determined by the availability and characteristics of the vaccine, and the resulting consequences with respect to distribution.
    How will the vaccines be distributed?
    The ‘operation COVID-19 vaccination strategy’ taskforce has developed a vaccination strategy in consultation with local authorities. This strategy can be consulted via the following link: https://d34j62pglfm3rr.cloudfront.net/downloads/Note_TF_Strategy_Vaccination_NL_0312_post_press.pdf
    Will a vaccination centre be created in my district?
    This will be discussed with the federated entities. In Flanders, the ELZ (first line zones) will also be called to action. This will only be the case in phase 1b, when we are able to offer vaccines on a broader scale. When we will begin with phase 1b is hard to say while we have uncertainties about supply. It is not yet possible to say when phase 2 will start.
    Where will the vaccines be stored?
    The vaccines will be stored securely in a central location in 41 HUB hospitals and vaccination centres across the country. The precise locations are not being divulged for security reasons. Given the fact that the first vaccines must be stored at an extremely low temperature, the right cooling installations will have to be provided.
    Will the vaccines be stored and transported safely?
    Within the logistics cell, everything is being prepared to store the vaccines safely in relation to both shelf-life (chilled containers) and civil security. In this context, there will be collaboration with the police, and security codes and procedures will also be used.

After vaccination

    Will I have to be vaccinated every year against COVID-19?
    • At the moment, there is no definitive answer to this question. At present this is being studied.
    • The length of protection will be studied further in phase 3 studies of vaccinated volunteers and in practice.
    Can I catch COVID-19 after vaccination?
    • Just like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine does not offer 100% protection, even after 2 doses.
    • Because we cannot check whether someone is infected at the time of the vaccination, it is possible that the infection with COVID-19 is detected shortly after the first vaccination. This is due to the fact that the person being vaccinated was already infected at the time of vaccination, but showed no symptoms. Furthermore, just like other vaccinations, there is a 14 day interval before the immune system is stimulated by the first vaccine. If anyone is exposed to the virus shortly after the first vaccination, this could lead to an infection.
    • The vaccination prevents you from becoming ill from an infection. At the moment, we do not know whether the vaccination prevents you from transferring the virus to others. As long as insufficient people have been vaccinated, it is therefore vital that you comply with the protective measures even after you have been vaccinated (social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing hands, airing rooms, etc.) in order to protect others.
    Am I protected immediately after vaccination?
    • After vaccination, it takes between 10 and 14 days before your body begins to make antibodies. If you are exposed to the virus in this period, your immune system is not yet sufficiently stimulated by the vaccine and you could still become infected. Two weeks after the first vaccination, the effectiveness rises to around 90% and this then increases to around 95% after the second dose. In the interim, it is extremely important that you respect the protection measures (social distancing, wearing a face mask, washing hands, airing rooms, etc.)
    • Even those people who are fully vaccinated must continue to comply with the measures. It will take a while before enough people are vaccinated and herd immunity is realised.
    • Just like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine does not offer 100% protection, even after 2 doses.
    • Because we cannot currently check whether the person being vaccinated is carrying the virus, it could be that he/she was infected at the moment of vaccination and then tests positive for COVID-19 and becomes sick. That is due to the fact that the virus was still in the incubation period at the moment of vaccination.
    Can I infect other people with COVID-19 if I have been vaccinated?
    The results of the phase 3 studies suggests that the COVID-19 vaccines protect against infection (confirmed by a PCR test) and against illness and complications. Whether or not you are less likely to transfer the virus to others when you have been vaccinated is still under investigation. On the basis of animal testing in monkeys, we can assume that the vaccination affects the number of days that a person is contagious. Additionally, an awareness of symptoms such as sneezing and coughing will also impact on transmission.
    Can I get back to normal once I've been vaccinated?
    Once we have achieved a high enough vaccination level among the risk groups and reduced the pressure on the healthcare system, changes will be implemented with respect to the safety measures. At the moment, you must continue to follow coronavirus measures for your own safety and the safety of others. Particularly if you do not belong to a high-risk group but do come into contact with high-risk persons.
    Will I have to prove that I have been vaccinated to take part in everyday life?
    At the moment, there are no regulations for proving you have been vaccinated in order to take part in certain activities, such as travel.

Helping as a volunteer

Would you like to help as a volunteer/caregiver in a vaccination centre? Students and pensioners are also more than welcome!

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For more information about the vaccination, see: