In the first phase, the jab will go to a number of priority target populations, as determined by the Flemish government. It concerns staff working on the current COVID-19-wards, respiratory disease wards, geriatrics, intensive care and the ER. Not just doctors and nurses will be receiving the first vaccines as of Tuesday, but also e.g. cleaning staff and physiotherapists working on these wards. UZ Leuven has set up three central locations in the hospital, which makes it easier for the cold storage of these vaccines. Other priority teams will be vaccinated the week after that, and the required second injections of the vaccine will follow a couple of weeks after the first one. All UZ Leuven employees will receive a personal invitation via email. The hospital is calling on all of its employees to take the vaccine.
Relief for the healthcare staff
Dr. Philippe Meersseman, doctor on intensive medicine, was one of the first to get his coronavirus jab on Tuesday morning. “It's predominantly a sense of relief. We have been through long and difficult months, so this vaccination jab has not come a day too soon. A lot of the staff on COVID-wards are at the end of their rope and with a possible third wave looming, we can't afford more hospital staff contracting COVID-19. We know of course that the vaccine is 90% effective after two injections, but not for the full 100%. It is also still unclear whether you can still pass on the disease to others after vaccination. We will therefore remain vigilant towards our patients and will continue to work with the same protective equipment.”
Prof. dr. Geert Meyfroidt, doctor on the intensive care wards and Belgian chairman of the association of intensivists, went to get his first coronavirus infection. “This is a historic step. The reason everyone has been waiting for a vaccine is to make sure that Belgian healthcare does not capsize again. If we can make sure that hospital staff can't drop out again, we've already taken a first big step. But to achieve group immunity in the population, 70% has to be vaccinated. We do hope that everyone will go out to get their jab.”