Belgium’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, starting in early January, will be free and voluntary, deploying five different vaccines and 22 million doses in total, according to detailed plans released by its health ministry on Thursday.
The announcement — which comes a day after Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said distribution will start January 5 — lays out six groups, vaccinated over three phases, in order of priority.
During the first phase, a very limited amount of vaccines will be available to residents and staff of care homes and health care professionals. 600,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab will go to 300,000 people, since two doses are necessary per person.
Under the second phase, when more vaccines with easier storage requirements are ready, people over 65; at-risk patients between 45 and 65; and people with essential social and/or economic functions will get their dose.
The last phase of the plan, targeting other at-risk patients and the rest of the adult population, can start when there’s a sufficient supply of vaccines available.
Still, it’s likely that the majority of citizens won’t get the jab before the summer, warned Dirk Ramaeckers, the head of the Belgian vaccination task force.
The vaccines to be distributed are from AstraZeneca/Oxford; Johnson & Johnson; Pfizer/BioNTech; CureVac; and Moderna.