Adjusting the vaccination campaign by dropping age limits and allowing people to make an appointment themselves is not only difficult from an organizational standpoint. Some people are also at risk of exclusion. That’s says Joris Munins, a spokesperson for the Health and Welfare Agency. He is thus responding to a call from Dr Jan Stropants, emergency physician and director of the Spoor Oost Center for Testing and Immunization in Antwerp. Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beck (CD&V) also wants to maintain the descending age order.
Stroobants fear that many people will choose a holiday if it coincides with their vaccination date. “It wouldn’t be smart to be in the centers with empty locks, because people don’t attend or because they are invited but travel, while those who want to come are not allowed to come yet because it’s not shifted yet,” An emergency doctor at Het Laatste Nieuws announced this morning. “Anyone who wants to be vaccinated should be vaccinated this summer at a time that suits them best. People should be able to register themselves for free.”
This system is already used in Antwerp and Ghent: residents receive an invitation, but then they must actively confirm it. In addition, they can choose a free vaccination moment that suits them best.
Munins understands the appeal of the strobants, but points out any practical problems. For example, organizing an “open system” and immediately giving all ages the opportunity to register is much more difficult to organize. “There should be an appropriate number of vaccinations for the number of people enrolled,” he explains. “In a strict regime, it is much easier to monitor.”
Now is not the time to change the entire system.
In addition, vaccination centers are on their busiest and busiest weeks. Not many vaccines have been used in recent months. Now is not the time to change the entire system, a spokesperson for the Health and Welfare Agency explains. “The vaccination centers have found a routine.”
Munins also fears that with an open system with no age limits, some people will be left out. If the system is fully opened, there will be a rush in the grafting holes. People who are less digital, those who are difficult to reach by the government or who receive information too late will be the victims. It seems that they “may be frustrated and may drop out.” People who do not have the incentive to get vaccinated will also drop out.
Munins also cites a medical argument. Vaccination was selected for each age, as health risks increase with age. “The risk for a 35-year-old is clearly lower than that for people over 65, but also higher than for people aged 20 to 25.” Moreover, according to the agency, people in their 30s and 40s, who are now close to their role, will not be happy if the system is overturned. “They obediently waited their turn and it wouldn’t be a good idea to suddenly fight for a vaccine,” Munins said.
Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beck (CD&V) also said in the Flemish Parliament after a question from Freya Saeys (Open Vld) that he still supported the descending age order in vaccination. According to Sais, there is a lot of frustration among citizens. “Shouldn’t we be more customer-friendly and move to a public system where people can register themselves?” Beck asked. But he did not mention it explicitly.
“any conversion center can”
Munins explains that vaccination centers are free to switch to the system in which citizens still receive an invitation, but can choose the moment of vaccination themselves, as in Antwerp. “Most of them don’t work with a system in which a citizen is given a proposed date, but can switch at any time.” According to the latest data, 17 out of 95 cores used the Antwerp system last week.
Read also: Dr. Jan Straubants suggests modifying the vaccination campaign: “Let all ages come and let everyone register when it suits them.”
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