Changed priorities for flu vaccinations: Frequently Asked Questions
The recent change to the priorities being used for flu vaccinations has led to a lot of uncertainty. You will find clear answers to most of your questions here.
- What has changed exactly?
- Which employees are still eligible for priority vaccination?
- Why have the rules changed?
- What do you need to do as an employer?
- What does this new method mean for my open order?
- Can I get additional vaccines elsewhere?
- What will the impact be on my invoicing?
- What do I tell my employees who have applied for a vaccine?
- I employ employees who belong to the adapted risk group or who are employed in healthcare, but I am on a waiting list. What do I need to do?
- Who can I contact if I have questions?
1. What has changed exactly?
Demand for flu vaccines has never been so high. To protect the most vulnerable, and to avoid overburdening the healthcare system, the government has issued new guidelines for flu vaccinations. In concrete terms, pregnant women, the over-65s, the chronically ill and healthcare professionals will get priority.
The originally announced “second phase”, in which non-risk people could also be vaccinated, will no longer be utilised.
The new rules will apply until 30 November. An evaluation will then take place and a decision made about whether adjustments should be made.
The adjustment of vaccination rules has been is taken by FPS Public Health. As external services, we must follow the guidelines provided, just like the curative sector.
2. Which employees are still eligible for priority vaccination?
There are two groups that still qualify: people/employees with individual health risks, and employees in the healthcare sector.
Individual health risks:
- all pregnant women, regardless of their stage of pregnancy
- people over 65 years of age
- people with an underlying chronic disease (even if it has been stabilised) of the lungs (including severe asthma), heart (excluding hypertension), liver, kidneys, metabolic disorders (including diabetes), with a BMI > 35, suffering from neuromuscular disorders or immune disorders (natural or induced)
Please note: people living with a person over 65, or someone with a chronic condition, will also be given priority, as well as those who live with children younger than 6 months.
People working in the health sector:
- all NACE codes starting with 86, 87 and 88 are eligible. This also includes employees of childcare/crèches, sheltered workshops and institutions with or without housing for disabled people. The administrators of those institutions are also eligible.
- ambulance workers in the fire service fall under the priority risk group
- the following Public Centre for Social Welfare (PCSW) employees are eligible:
- nursing home staff, including administrators
- home care
- PCSW cleaning staff are not eligible
- in municipalities:
- school doctors and school nurses employed by them
- all employees of day centres for dementia sufferers that have been set up by municipal authorities
3. Why have the rules changed?
Belgium has 2.9 million vaccines available for the current flu season. This is more than previous years. But unlike previous years, everyone over the age of 50 was initially included in the risk group.
About half of the available vaccines have already been distributed to the priority target groups (such as the elderly and pregnant women), but the remaining vaccines will also be needed to protect them. This is why the age limit of the new risk group has been raised to 65 years.
After these priority target groups have been vaccinated, and depending on the availability of vaccines, research will be carried out to see if persons between 50 and 65 can
also be vaccinated as well.
4. What do you need to do as an employer?
Send us a new list of the names of your at-risk employees (according to the new conditions described above) before 1 December 2020 at the latest. We can then (re)schedule eligible employees based on this new list. Obviously, those not in the risk group will not be allowed to register for vaccination. FPS Public Health may carry out checks.
5. What does this new method mean for my open order?
Your order will be amended to correspond with the number of vaccines our doctors and nurses actually administer. We will base this on the vaccines that have already been administered and the revised list of names. In order to do this correctly, it is essential that you provide us with a new list of the names of at-risk employees so we can prepare a new schedule.
6. Can I get additional vaccines elsewhere?
Individuals can ask their GP or pharmacist whether vaccines are still available. Doctors and pharmacists must also strictly adhere to the priorities set by the government.
7. What will the impact be on my invoicing?
Only those vaccines that have actually been administered will be billed. The list of names is essential in order for this to be done correctly.
8. What do I tell my employees who have applied for a vaccine?
Any employee who belongs to the newly-defined risk group can register for a vaccination. Employees who do not (or no longer) belong to the newly-defined risk group will not be eligible for flu vaccination this year. An evaluation is still being made for people aged between 50 and 65. If there are vaccines available after the at-risk group has been vaccinated, they too can have access to vaccination.
9. I employ employees who belong to the adapted risk group or who are employed in healthcare, but I am on a waiting list. What do I need to do?
Send us a list of the names of these employees; they belong to the priority group. We cannot plan them in without the list.
10. Who can I contact if I have questions?
At the moment, our team is particularly busy keeping the flu vaccinations on the right track. If you cannot find the answer to your question above, please send your question by e-mail to your file manager. We will get in touch with you as soon as possible.