Call for prevention services: here’s how to speed up vaccinations
A text by Edelhart Kempeneers, medical director at Attentia
Now that residents of nursing and care homes as well as primary care providers have almost all been vaccinated, all people over 65 and at-risk patients in our country are being urged by mail to come to the next few weeks in a vaccination center to receive an injection. At the current rate, however, it will still be a long time before the entire working population can be vaccinated. So why not call on the internal or external prevention services of companies in order to speed up the vaccination schedule? Any employer with at least one worker in service must in fact join a prevention and protection service at work. This is why these services can play an important role in the immunization strategy. On the condition of having enough vaccines.
Prevention services have experience with vaccination campaigns
Internal and external prevention services are not at their first attempt in terms of vaccination campaigns. Every fall, we participate in the distribution of the flu vaccine. Employers make more than half a million doses readily available to their workers through the occupational health services of these preventive services. We are therefore perfectly capable of carrying out a large-scale campaign.
The logistical process of some types of Covid-19 vaccines is naturally somewhat different from that of influenza vaccines – just think of low temperature storage – but we have gained the necessary experience through vaccination of dozens. thousands of staff in nursing and care homes and hospitals.
Better distribution is possible
One of the difficulties that vaccination centers may face is the maximum number of people that can be present – according to the measures currently in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A rush to vaccination centers is therefore expected in the coming weeks. A first test carried out in Brussels resulted in long waiting times.
By vaccinating employees in companies, we greatly relieve the vaccination centers. Thanks to parallel vaccination circuits, a better distribution is thus obtained and the planning capacity of other segments of the population is increased. Thanks to this better distribution, we also neutralize the question of which professional category is essential and who can go first to a vaccination center. The risk of mixing “bubbles” is also reduced.
Membership rate is high
The membership rate is high on the employers’ side. A recent study carried out by Voka shows that, out of ten companies employing more than 50 workers, six are ready to have their staff members vaccinated themselves.
On the worker side, too, it seems that people are more willing to be vaccinated at work than in a large-scale anonymous vaccination center. The worker knows the environment and the injection procedure, having already experienced it during a previous vaccination (against influenza). Employees who are already in the workplace, I am thinking for example of production companies, do not have to go to a vaccination center either. This saves them a trip, the necessary formalities and stress.
An economy that reboots faster can recover faster
In a recent document from the World Health Organization (WHO) “Data for action: achieving high uptake of COVID-19 vaccines”, The WHO says it considers“ vaccination in the workplace ”as one of the interventions with the greatest impact on the vaccination rate. We may never go back to the “old normal” again, but workplace immunizations can be an important step in rebuilding the economy. The more people who get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume all of our activities.
In this way, everyone in the company is vaccinated at the same time and employees no longer depend on the selection rules or the speed of the vaccination campaign depending on their place of residence. Each colleague is therefore protected at the same time against Covid-19, so that the company can more quickly find its working habits. The economic activity of the company is picking up faster, which also allows the economy to recover more quickly. This is also favorable to public finances.
This proposal is based on an important condition: a mandate. For things to run smoothly, you, as a government, need to make concrete, transparent and stable agreements and trust the expertise of occupational health services. Without it, you will end up with the scenario we experienced in the fall of 2020: due to untimely changes in guidelines, 70,000 influenza vaccines went unused.
>>> Original title: “Call for prevention services to speed up vaccinations”