As Belgium begins to lift some of its lockdown restrictions, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has stressed that vaccinations remain a key to exiting the pandemic.
“It is abundantly clear that vaccination remains crucial,” De Croo said on Friday, when he announced the plan to exit lockdown.
“There is actually no real exit plan,” he said, “the real exit plan that is the vaccination plan.”
From March 8, people can meet with up to 10 others outside, but social distancing measures still need to be adhered to and faces mask must continue to be worn.
The Prime Ministers comments on the importance of the vaccine rollout come as the Belgian Order of Physicians – a body that all doctors must be registered with in order to practice medicine — has warned it will take a stricter approach to doctors who question the effect of coronavirus vaccines.
Doctors will face “severe action against spreading information, mostly by way of social media, which does not comply with the current state of scientific knowledge,” the order’s Vice-President Dr. Michel Deneyer told CNN on Friday.
Dr. Deneyer warned that “disinformation may have disastrous consequences” and that “it is beyond doubt that doctors have to collaborate for the planned vaccination program.”
The success of Belgium’s vaccination campaign and achieving the national target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population, “depends highly on the (lasting) trust of the population and of the medical corps,” he said.
“The population has great faith in the family doctor, in the pharmacist, in the experts. Their advice is followed,” Deneyer added.
Any doctor found spreading disinformation will face a disciplinary hearing before one of the order’s ten local “provincial Councils” and risks up to two months suspension, he explained.
Deneyer said that “a few physicians” had already been suspended, but was unable to confirm exact numbers, citing confidentially.