Belgium launches Covid vaccinations
Belgium began to deploy the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, innoculating residents at three retirement homes as the first step in a national campaign.
elgium began to deploy the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, innoculating residents at three retirement homes as the first step in a national campaign.
The vaccine launched by Pfizer and BioNTech is the first approved for use in the European Union, and is produced in a plant in Puurs, in Belgian Flanders.
The country has suffered one of the worst per capita death rates in the world during the epidemic, and its nursing homes have been particularly hard hit.
The first doses of the vaccine that scientists hope will turn back the tide went to homes in Puurs, the French-speaking town of Mons and a Brussels suburb.
A much larger campaign will begin in early January, but Belgium wanted to symbolic first vaccinations to start alongside those in its other EU partners.
In Puurs, 96-year-old Joe Hermans received his injection under the gaze of news photographers and cameramen, shielded behind a glass screen.
In Woluwe-Lambert, part of the Brussels capital region, regional health minister Alain Maron watched as 101-year-old Josepha Delmotte was vaccinated.
In the Notre-Dame de Stockel home, he said, 90 percent of residents had agreed to get the vaccine, the first of several candidate drugs to be approved.
“After the holiday we’ll start to vaccinate all the residents in retirement homes in Brussels. Around 10,000 people by mid-January,” he said.
According to a survey by the Sciensano public health institute conducted between December 3 and 11, 60 percent of Belgians are ready to be vaccinated.
The country is currently in partial economic and social lockdown as it battles a second wave of infections. A total of 19,200 people have died.
National health spokesman Yves Van Laethem said virus deaths, hospitalisations and new infections have been falling since December 25.