Preventive health measures in Belgium
Here you will find an overview of the compulsory vaccinations in Belgium and of the existing vaccination programmes.
The vaccination against poliomyelitis is the only compulsory vaccination for all infants in Belgium. It comprises two or three doses before a child’s first birthday and one dose soon after the first birthday. The vaccinations must be completed by the time the child is 18 months old.
Parents must be able to present an immunisation certificate for their children in the municipality where they live before the children reach the age of 18 months. When registering in a municipality, parents are asked to provide an immunisation certificate or are given a form to be completed by their family doctor. Parents who are unable to provide a certificate may be issued with several warnings and risk prosecution. Nationals of European countries where vaccination is not compulsory must have their children vaccinated according to a catch-up schedule.
If you are coming to Belgium from a country where polio viruses are circulating, you must have an additional polio vaccination if you did not have one before you left. The World Health Organization publishes a list of these countries.
The other vaccinations are not compulsory in Belgium but are strongly recommended. You can find all the information you need about vaccinations at www.laatjevaccineren.be (for the guidelines in Flanders and the Dutch-speaking community in Brussels) and www.vaccination-info.be (for Wallonia and the French-speaking community in Brussels). Those living in the German-speaking area of Belgium can find all the information about vaccinations on the website of the German-speaking Community (in German).
Before you can place your children in a French-speaking childcare facility (in the French Community), you must have them vaccinated against diseases that can be communicated within groups of young children: this applies to polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), measles, rubella and mumps. You can find more information on the website www.vaccination-info.be (in French), on the website of the Office of Birth and Childhood ONE (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance) (in French), which is also available in English, or on the website of the Centre for Child and Youth Development Kaleido (in German) (for those living in the German-speaking Community). It is not compulsory to have your children vaccinated before placing them in childcare in the German-speaking Community.
It is not compulsory for Dutch-speaking childcare facilities in Flanders and Brussels either, although you are strongly recommended to follow the basic vaccination schedule (in Dutch).
You can be immunised against hepatitis A and B if you are at increased risk of exposure at work. The cost of this immunisation can be refunded by Fedris, the Federal Agency for Occupational Risks (in French).
Blood samples from newborns can be screened for various rare diseases both in Flanders and in the French Community. These diseases often have serious consequences. The screenings are not compulsory, but are strongly recommended in the child’s interests: the sooner these diseases are discovered, the more effectively they can be treated. The screening is free. You can find out more about this on the following websites:
- Flanders and the Dutch-speaking community in Brussels: national screening for congenital diseases (in Dutch).
- French Community: neonatal screening (in French).
In addition to screening for congenital diseases, both Flanders and Wallonia have screening programmes for colorectal cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer. Breast cancer and colorectal cancer screening are also offered in Brussels. You can find out more about this on the following websites:
- Flanders: national screening cancer (in Dutch)
- French Community: cancer screening by the Community Centre for Early Detection of Cancers (Centre Communautaire de Référence pour le dépistage des cancers – CCR) (in French)
- Brussels: the Brussels Community commission works on this matter with BRUPREV (in French).
Two important screening tests are also offered in the German-speaking Community (a breast cancer screening test (in German) and a colorectal cancer screening test (in German). The German-speaking Community provides these tests in partnership with the CCR (in French), the Wallonian centre for early detection of cancers.