What are the “essential” functions that can be vaccinated as a priority?

While phase 1A has already started nearly two weeks in Belgium, allowing the vaccination of several thousand nursing home residents and their staff, the vaccination campaign should undergo a boost in the coming days, and this, in the different regions of the country.

The “exposed” hospital staff as well as the help and first-line care staff (general practitioners, physiotherapists, pharmacists …) are indeed the next groups who will be able to be vaccinated, and this respectively at the end of the month. January and during the month of February.

At the beginning of March, phase 1B should then begin, which targets three groups of the population, considered as priorities: people aged 65 and over, people aged 45 and over “at risk” (who present for example co-morbidities). ), and finally the so-called “essential” functions socially or economically.

This last category has not yet been officially determined by the authorities but is already raising serious questions: indeed, how to determine whether a police officer is more essential than a bus driver, a politician, or even a garbage collector? The question is open to debate.

“Risk criteria” rather than essential functions

According to Sabine Stordeur, project manager within the vaccination task force, priority will not be given to specific professions, but will rather be established according to “risk criteria”.

Within each profession, all employees run different risks: some have close contact with people at risk or are unable to respect physical distancing, while others may telework“, she explains.”Our objective is therefore not to define a list of ‘essential functions’ – it is not us who will decide what is essential or not – but rather to draw up a list of risk criteria.“On the basis of this list, employers as well as those responsible for health and safety at work will be able to define who, among the company’s employees, can be vaccinated as a priority.

According to Sabine Stordeur, the list of these risk criteria should be finalized during the month of February. People who occupy a “critical function within the professions” can thus be vaccinated from March, if all goes well.

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