BRUSSELS — Belgium is stepping up its coronavirus vaccination campaign in nursing homes, where more than half of of all COVID-19 deaths in the country have been recorded.
Amid strong criticism over its slowness in deploying vaccines, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said Monday that 87,000 shots will be given every week to nursing home residents and staff.
Speaking to RTL radio, Vandenbroucke said Belgium took a cautious approach in rolling out vaccines and made safety a priority, adding that logistical issues due to the super-cold temperatures needed for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not help.
Vandenbroucke took satisfaction in the high rate of vaccination so far, with about 85% of the nursing home residents willing to take the shots.
Last month, Amnesty International said Belgium authorities “abandoned” thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes during the pandemic following an investigation in which the group cited “human rights violations.”
And last week, authorities said 27 elderly people died in an outbreak at a Belgian nursing home from a super-spreading St. Nick party. One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium has reported more than 19,700 deaths linked to the virus.