21st Feb 2024

Hundreds of thousands log on for 'spare' Belgian vaccinations

  • Belgium launched a website where people can register to be on the vaccination reserve list (Photo: Nathan Forget)

On Tuesday (6 April) Belgium launched a new website, QVAX, where people not yet vaccinated or who have no appointment to be vaccinated, can register for 'unused' appointments.

The aim of the site is to make a 'reserve list' that can fill such empty vaccination slots from people that do not show up, in order not to waste jabs.

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The response was immediate. In the morning, the queue to be registered quickly passed 200,000, with people waiting for hours to get a spot on the list.

However, the principle of the reserve list is not 'first-come-first-served'. Applicants will be ranked according to age, and according to medical condition.

Considering the scale of the response, it is unlikely that younger people will jump ahead much ahead of their older peers.

Three regions, two systems

However, not all of Belgium is using the QVAX reserve list system. Flanders and Wallonia are, while Brussels has decided to construct its own system.

"In Brussels, we find the double system that Flanders and Wallonia are implementing a bit complicated", Nicholas Elles, a Brussels government spokesperson said.

"They are using this reserve list system next to the appointment system they already have. Brussels will have one integrated system", he added.

Contrary to the Flemish and Walloon system, the Brussels system also allows people to choose the centre where they want to be vaccinated.

The Brussels region announced this integrated system will be ready by mid-April.

In the meantime, although Flanders and Wallonia launched their system on Tuesday, their reserve lists will not be immediately operational.

In Flanders for example, the system is being first tested in two smaller cities, Deinze and Roeselare. Once the results of these two pilot projects is thought to be satisfactory, it will be extended across other places.

Some local regions also decided not to participate to this new reserve list. One example is de Kempen, in the Antwerp province.

The reason is, they say, that they already made a reserve list on their own.

While Flanders and Wallonia are still vaccinating people older than 80, Brussels has vaccinated all citizens older than 65.

According to medical doctor and head of the vaccination strategy of de Kempen, Kris Baeyens, it is not clear why his region is lagging behind.

"There is a Flemish distribution system. Maybe we just get less jabs than other regions", he says.

However, the cities at the Belgian coast are confronted with the same backlog.

Whether the vaccination system in Brussels is more efficient than other regions is not clear. But it is a fact that the population in Brussels is younger than that of the other Belgian regions.

This might be the reason why people of a younger age are getting their inoculation earlier.

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