Free flu jabs in bid to cut death toll
16 September 2005
BRUSSELS – Every resident in Belgium will be entitled to a free flu vaccination from October, it was announced on Friday.
Health minister Rudy Demotte had already said last week that the state health insurance schemes would reimburse the jab for ‘high risk’ groups, such as health workers and poultry farmers.
In the latest edition of the medical magazine, Journal du Medecin, though, he stated the free vaccination would be extended to everyone until April 2006.
Every year, some 1,500 people in Belgium die from having flu and experts say the figure could rise to 4,500 in the event of a particularly bad outbreak.
Only 22 percent of the Belgian population decides to have a flu jab, on average, although the total figure rises every year.
The World Health Organisation wants to see 30 percent of residents vaccinated.
“With the reimbursement of the anti-flu vaccination we should reach the rate of 30 percent,” Professor Marc Van Ranst from Leuven University (KUL) told the medical journal.
Demotte stressed that the reimbursement did not mean everyone had to have a flu jab. “It’s up to the doctor to decide who must be vaccinated. This measure is positive providing risk groups are vaccinated first,” he said.”
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news