Sciensano is responsible for the surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases in humans and collects and analyses data from various sources. In addition, Sciensano is the National Reference Centre for laboratory analyses of several of these diseases. Finally, the Quality of Vaccines and Blood Products service is the Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) for some vaccines.
Vaccination protects animals and people against diseases that can have serious consequences for their health. It also reduces the risk and intensity of these diseases spreading in the community. Since the introduction of vaccination, many of these diseases have become rare or even absent in Belgium. Nevertheless, it remains important to monitor the situation closely (surveillance) and to maintain a high vaccination rate. There is always a risk of flare ups, for instance after importation from abroad or in groups that have been insufficiently vaccinated. The surveillance data are also used to support public health decisions.
Vaccine-preventable diseases and humans
Some infections have been completely eradicated in Belgium (e.g. polio) or are still very rare (e.g. diphtheria). Other infectious diseases continue to cause sporadic epidemic outbreaks, such as measles.
Vaccinations included in the standardized vaccination scheme in Belgium
The Superior Health Council makes a recommendation for the basic vaccination schedule for humans in Belgium based on epidemiological figures from Sciensano and scientific information.
- Whooping cough
- Haemophilus influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
- Neisseria meningitides
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
Since 2021, vaccination against COVID-19 has been recommended in Belgium for everyone aged 12 and over. More information about COVID-19 vaccination in Belgium and the published opinions of the Superior Health Council).
Organisation of the vaccination policy
Vaccination policy in Belgium is organized by the different regional authorities, but the basic vaccination schedule is similar (more information can be found in the report ‘Conseil et politique de vaccination en Belgique’ or ‘Vaccinatiebeleid en advies in België’. You can find the schedules for Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia (including the German-speaking community).
Vaccine-preventable diseases and animals
Numerous diseases can be prevented with vaccine administering in domestic animals (pets, horses and production animals). According to the animal species, the pathogen to control or eradicate, and the sanitary context, vaccination can be prohibited, recommended or mandatory. As an example, a cat owner may have his animal vaccinated to coryza but must vaccinate to rabies if he wants to travel abroad with his animal. In cattle as a second example the vaccination to “red nose disease” (bovine herpesvirus type 1) was mandatory in infected herds and could thus be avoided to allow Belgium to gain the official status “free from disease”. Indeed international regulations and European legislation only offers this status in not by default vaccinating countries. The implementation of the European regulations into the Belgian legislation is organized by the Federal Public Services and the control of the application of the regulation is the responsibility of the Federal Agency for the Security of the Food Chain (FASFC).
More information on sanitary statuses, disease descriptions, can be found on the web pages of the World Organisation of Animal Health, founded as ‘Office National des Epizooties’.