Because of COVID-19, it is even more important to vaccinate at-risk groups, including older people, as widely as possible against seasonal flu. All people aged 50 years and older can get the flu vaccine in pharmacies without a prescription issued by the doctor (general practitioner).
High flu vaccine coverage among older people can help avoid overwhelming health care systems. This is why 2020/2021 influenza vaccination will follow a sequential approach by giving priority to at-risk groups.
In addition, an exceptional measure applies since 5 October 2020. People aged 50 and over can get their influenza vaccine in pharmacies, even if they have not yet received a doctor's prescription.
Pharmacists can prescribe the vaccine themselves and distribute it to these patients. Nevertheless, the vaccine must be administered by a doctor (GP).
Practical information for patients
- Are you 50 years old or older?
You have priority access to the influenza vaccine. As from 5 October 2020, you can go to your pharmacist without a medical prescription and get your vaccine. The pharmacist will verify your age and ask you a few questions (e.g. about possible allergies). If the screening is positive, the pharmacist will prescribe and distribute the vaccine. The pharmacist will advise you on how to best store the vaccine at home. You will then need to make an appointment with your doctor (GP) to be vaccinated. It is recommended to do it between mid-October and mid-December.
- You belong to a risk group but are under 50 years old?
You must obtain a prescription from your doctor (GP) before going to the pharmacist. You can get your vaccine in priority (until 15 November). The pharmacist will advise you on how to best store the vaccine at home. You will then need to make an appointment with your doctor (GP) to be vaccinated. It is recommended to do it between mid-October and mid-December.
- You do not belong to an at-risk group and you are under 50 years old?
You must obtain a prescription from your doctor (GP) before going to the pharmacist. As from 15 November, your pharmacist will be able to distribute your vaccine, depending on availability, after the priority target groups have been vaccinated.
Additional information for pharmacists
This exceptional measure is subject to certain requirements.
- The vaccine is distributed in a public pharmacy (the measure does not apply for a hospital pharmacy) and the pharmacist follows a defined prescription protocol: the pharmacist verifies the patient's age, makes sure that the patient has no known and dangerous allergies, and informs the patient on how to store the vaccine (in a cool place).
- The pharmacist enters the distribution of the vaccine in the prescription register, so that this information is available in the patient's Shared Pharmaceutical Record (SPR).
The Superior Health Council has identified the following at-risk groups:
Group 1: people at risk of complications
- all pregnant women regardless of the stage of pregnancy
- any patient from the age of 6 months with an underlying chronic condition, even if stabilised, of pulmonary (including severe asthma), cardiac (excluding hypertension), hepatic, renal, metabolic (including diabetes), BMI > 35, neuromuscular or immune disorders (natural or induced) origin.
- any person aged 65 and over
- people in institutional care
- children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years inclusive undergoing long-term aspirin therapy
Group 2: health sector personnel
Group 3: people living under the same roof as
- at-risk people from group 1
- children under 6 months of age
- people aged between 50 and 65 years old
Reimbursement of influenza vaccines (available in Dutch or French)