From bedbugs to full refrigerators: A vaccination strategy in four questions

Many questions arise about the speed of vaccination. An overview of the four most important.

1. How many vaccines are in the refrigerator?

More vaccines have been delivered than were used in previous weeks. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the explanation is simple: they need a second dose after three and four weeks. The Flemish government has taken a very careful approach, keeping a dose in the refrigerator for nearly every first injection.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been available since the second week of February, can be administered with an interval of 12 weeks. With this great laxity, this buffer is not necessary. However, AstraZeneca vaccines offered hardly reach Belgian weapons. Figures from FAMHP show 134,400 units are waiting.

This is the result of the new phase that began with the opening of vaccination centers. There you have to invite people to register. The Flemish government chose a two-week period between the moment the vaccines arrive and the time they can be administered.

Belgium requires 10 million injections to get more doses per bottle

Our country buys 10 million syringes and needles to make it possible to obtain more doses of Corona vaccine from vials. The Federal Cabinet gave the green light on Friday for this proposal from Health Minister Frank Vandenbroek (sp.a).

Using 0 die-sized syringes, a seventh dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine can be withdrawn from the vials. Mathematically, the 12th dose of Moderna vaccine can also be obtained.

2. Can we get vaccinated faster?

Yeah. Belgium uses a two-dose strategy. Countries like Denmark and the United Kingdom chose a more flexible schedule, as all incoming doses were injected instantly. The intention is still to vaccinate everyone twice, but the gambling is justified.

Logic? The first dose also provides protection and delivers more health gains by quickly vaccinating more people again. More and more data is emerging, including from Scotland, that a single dose of a vaccine provides a high form of protection.

3. Will we vaccinate faster?

The government is considering increasing the vaccination rate by delaying the second dose. This appears to be a good option for healthy residents. No decision has been taken yet. “We await the expert advice unanimously,” says Dirk DeWolf, CEO of the Flemish Agency for Health and Care.

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroek (sp.a) announced Friday evening on VTM Nieuws en Terzake that he expects a recommendation from the Supreme Health Council on a single strategy early next week.

The time period between birth and the date of vaccination has not yet been shortened to one week. Dee Wolff: “This is not the goal in the full initiation phase.” Due to uncertain deliveries, Flanders applies a precautionary principle to account for missing deliveries.

4. Are recall problems teething problems?

In recent days, “errors” have appeared in the system that require people to be vaccinated. Wrong phone numbers and email addresses for health care providers were used and vaccinations got another call.

“The lead time between data from Vaccinnet (which records vaccines, ed.) And the advocacy system was too long,” says MSF spokesperson Joris Munens. It has been seriously shortened. There have been problems with calls from caregivers because the data is incorrectly taken from the INHDAD database, but this is being processed.

This week, vaccination centers sent out thousands of invitations simultaneously during a stress test. IT systems have withstood it. We will still be testing with tens of thousands of calls at the same time, to ensure the systems will function well once the broad population is called in, starting in May and June.

Vandenbroek: “See if we can take the leap in the middle of next week”

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroek (sp.a) will meet with regional health ministers in the middle of next week to see if they can accelerate the vaccination strategy. He said so on “Tozake” on Friday. First he wants the advice of the Supreme Health Council for advice.

There are many options on the table. The first is to extend the time between the first and second injection of the Pfizer vaccine. Additionally, Vandenbroek referred to England and Scotland, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is given to people over the age of 55. “If we did that too, we’d get a much simpler campaign.” Finally, only one dose of vaccinations can be given. For example, people are less protected, but still sufficient. “There are a number of teething problems and we’re dependent on deliveries, but next week we’ll see if we can push the campaign forward,” Vandenbroek said.

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