At the heart of a Brussels vaccination center

Christophe nottet

We were contacted by an interim employee of a vaccination center who wanted to witness the inner reality. Free and informed consent, type of audience, colleagues, patient attitudes… a different discourse than the one allowed. 

How did you come to work in a vaccination center? 

I was kicked out because I come from a sector that was heavily affected by the Covid crisis. I lost my job, I bounced from temp assignment to temp assignment. At the end of 2020, beginning of 2021, it was very complicated because there were really few jobs available. For six months, I searched without finding much. At the beginning of April, I saw the advertisement to work in the center: it was close to my home and well paid. So I accepted, even though I was against the idea of working in this kind of environment, because I am not inoculated and I look at other media. Why did I do it? Because I needed a job… I was going crazy: I had been unemployed for six months, sitting at home watching the news but also the alternative media that showed the other side of the story. I absolutely needed it psychologically, mentally, psychically, financially, and then physically too. 

Are you vaccinated? 

No. I worked for four months in a vaccination center and helped vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people, without being vaccinated. I have been made to feel it from time to time. I was told that it might be time for me to do it, that once there is a health pass I won’t be able to do anything anyway, and then  » it’s for you, it’s to protect the others « … On a personal level, the fact that I wasn’t vaccinated caused many people to distance themselves from me. Very close people too, who insisted and re-insisted by sending me articles, messages, trying to phone me to bang the anvil to get it in. It hurt me a lot. 

Vaccine propaganda reaches all audiences: it is not only those who have not had much education. I know doctors of law, university professors or high school professors who should be critical, but who are still in the doxa, and who think that everyone must be vaccinated and that when everyone is vaccinated, everything will be fine. There is a blind logic specific to totalitarian regimes as Hannah Arendt described so well, but also the philosopher whom Kairos interviewed(1).

What was a day like at the center where you worked? 

We were headed by the Cocom(2) which changed its modalities more or less every day: information was modified, adjusted, disappeared. The day started at 9 am with a short briefing (which vaccine, which people, …). Different types of posts could be occupied: we had several booths, isoloirs. People would start to arrive and sit down and be asked a couple of medical questions. These questions would normally be subject to medical confidentiality, but the person asking the questions had no training in the health field. One can therefore question the respect of medical secrecy in this case. I think we had a waiver or something like that that made it possible for us to bring these issues to them. 

So, the patient registers, waits a little in the waiting room, goes into the booth, and is then asked the usual questions. Even if the patient answers yes to everything (history and disease), they will still get their vaccine. I was wondering what the point of asking the questions was. Then the person would wait on the side before being allowed to leave the center. Why the 15-minute wait? Because some people were having little discomfort. This happened often with young people. 

Who could come to the center to be vaccinated? 

This was done in age increments. All residents of Brussels could come, if they had received their convocation letter or had made an appointment with Bruvax, which detected with the national number which center was available for them. In April we had the 70+ and in May the 60+; then in June we went to the 35+; then in July we had the 18+; and finally in August we had the 12+. 

What types of colleagues do you work with? 

That’s something interesting to point out: there were two types of teams. The administrative team, of which I was a part, and the medical team. The medical team was composed of 95% emergency physicians. So these are people who came from the hospital intensive care units (ICUs), nurses who were initially pro-vax because they saw people dying from covid in hospitals thought that everyone was dropping like flies in the street, that we were all going to end up in the hospital and that we absolutely had to take the vaccine. 

When we had people who were a little hesitant, a little shy, who had questions, I tried several times to answer them. I would lower my voice a little bit and say,  » Look, we’re not sure about everything … » and I got caught, I got slapped on the wrist, and I got told,  » You can’t, you can’t . » This is also something that shocked me: you can’t question the vaccine(s), you can’t say that it doesn’t work too well, that there are countries that are « ahead » and in which it doesn’t work very well, you can’t talk about other countries, other drugs, other studies, the foreign press, etc. It’s not possible. I was told that I didn’t have the medical training to do this: « you can’t open your mouth and you have to be quiet! » There was a total prohibition to question the doxa that was communicated to us by the Cocom, the organization that oversees all vaccination in Brussels. It was necessary to let the emergency nurses answer, who explained that it was necessary to vaccinate to protect people, to give a maximum coverage, etc., whereas all this speech is currently being dismantled. There were also retired doctors on the medical team who thought that the technology behind messenger RNA was the revolution from a vaccine perspective. We also had two independent nurses who came to work almost full time in the center, because the state paid them handsomely and they made more money coming in to give shots all day than being independent and working for themselves. 

The administrative team was composed of people with different profiles that I cannot specify here because I could be recognized. The basis for recruiting the administrative team was that we were more or less comfortable talking to people. It was therefore composed of ordinary people with very different positions and opinions, while the medical team was very pro-vaccine. At least at first, because by July, a few, mostly parents, were saying that in light of the new studies and other information, they were beginning to regret it. 

Overall, the mass vaccination process was not questionable. It was that and nothing else. It was through the vaccine, thanks to the vaccine, that the situation would return to normal — without getting into the question of what is normal in our country in the age of hypercapitalism and overconsumption. 

What vaccines were you working with? 

Astrazeneca to start with, then we had Pfizer, then we had Johnson… And there were days when we mixed a little bit, with two vaccines at the same time (rarely but it happened). Astrazeneca was for people over 40. Pfizer was open bar for everyone. And the Jonhson was 18+ with release, either already signed on Bruvax, or to be signed on the spot if no appointment. We didn’t have a Moderna. 

Were your patients in a state of free and deliberate choice? 

Mentally and intellectually, they could have been. If they had taken the time to read the package inserts and become informed, they would have been able to make a free and informed choice. The fact is that 99% did not read the notices, did not do any research, did not take any steps to find out. Many people asked what vaccine they had received after the injection! I thought it was pretty funny. 

They could have been intellectually capable, but in fact, no: since almost no one inquired and the few who did were quickly rebuffed by the doctors and nurses with a speech like this:  » yes, but you know the doubts you have, we have them too and we did it anyway « , which is like saying  » shut up and do what we do! « . The choice of vaccine is neither free nor informed, nor even allowed after all. 

Did the patient have a choice of vaccine? 

Absolutely not, at least until the end of July. People had to make an appointment on Bruvax and didn’t know what vaccine they were going to get unless they accepted Johnson. What’s very interesting to say also is that, via Bruvax I think, the patient has to check a box to volunteer for this vaccine. It is therefore a way of putting the responsibility on the patient who makes the decision « himself ». While in fact there is a lot of social pressure, propaganda, advertising… So the elderly got Astra, the not-so-old got Pfizer, and unless there are special conditions stamped by a doctor, people can’t choose their vaccine. 

Or they go away and have to reschedule, and if they’re lucky they’ll get the vaccine they want. From the end of July, we had doses to sell and less people and then the choice started to appear. But for a good three months, there was no choice. We couldn’t even disclose which vaccines we were going to work with at that time. You should also know that we were made to sign a confidentiality clause and that I am not supposed to give this information. This also shocked me, because we are in a public service that sees thousands of people pass by, but we can’t talk about it. 

What are people’s motivations for getting vaccinated? 

For the youngest among them, around 55 years old, we start talking about vacations, and for whom it is unthinkable not to go on vacation. And if it is necessary to sting, then sting there will be! This is the mentality that will follow us until the age of 18 and even younger. Vacation and health reasons are the main reasons to get vaccinated. We also hear a bit about civic duty, but really to a lesser extent. There is also a small sense of obligation, which is not really hidden, with people not wanting to do it, but doing it anyway. Note that although they are reluctant, they have never been a problem for the team. Some were happy to be there and were doing their civic duty, others said « anyway we will all have to go through it and I do it like that now I have peace and afterwards I won’t be bothered anymore, then we have to protect the others and if we don’t do it we are selfish! There was really a nice brainwashing, I think, that was put in place but that especially found its audience. 

End of May, beginning of June: the patient base is getting younger, the main reason remains travel, with a little bit of « civic duty » as well. We also hear « protection of the elderly »: if the government says it is good, it is automatically good. We feel that many people watch their TV and nothing else. 

By the end of June, with the 30–35 year olds, we already have more people questioning the need to vaccinate everyone. They still get vaccinated. For me, the answer is no: I don’t think it is necessary, the convincing studies are not there, and only time will bring us these answers. But all this I could not say. And so the reflection on the necessity of the vaccine, on the obligation that is placed on it, on the feelings of fear, of medical insecurity around the product… we cannot address them, in fact. If patients want to talk about it, someone from the medical team should be called. But they are obviously rather pro-vaccine, which suits everyone. 

At the same time, we also see the arrival of pregnant women. In general, without fear or reproach, even if sometimes with a little fear, but in the end the needle always goes in. Anecdote: a pregnant woman wanted to be reassured and came to me. She asks me if the vaccine is safe. I tell him what I thought, that I don’t think so, that we still don’t know exactly what it’s about. Then I realized that this person just wanted to be comforted in his own decision, already made. So I explained to her that I wanted to remain objective and that, as a result, I couldn’t comfort her. She had a very bad experience. 

July: the 18+ arrive, we vaccinate with Pfizer, Johnson, and almost no more Astrazeneca (Europe has stopped buying from them). There are a lot of people with the beginning of the vacations, these are big days. There is also a fashion/social pressure effect: my friends did it so I do it too to stay in the group, my family did it and I don’t want to be bothered at family dinners, I’ve been paying for PCR tests for months to go and see my grandmother in her home and I’m fed up with it now… a hint of civic duty that remains as well, but also fatalism in the face of the health pass. 

Then it was the children’s turn? 

The children started to arrive. First the 16/17 year olds who no longer needed parental consent, then the younger ones. Fortunately, throughout this time, I always had my mental shield telling me « they do what they want, they come on their own and what they do is none of your business! » But with the arrival of the miners, I could no longer maintain that position. 

What vaccine was given to the children? 

When we had children between the ages of 12 and 15, they were only given Pfizer. Why? I have no idea… At that age, they had to be accompanied by a legal guardian. We had to ask the child to confirm that the person accompanying him/her was a parent or legal guardian. However, we had no way to verify the information. So if the child was lying and the parent next to him was also lying… Well, we didn’t know that! 

The child should also be asked if it was his or her choice to be vaccinated. And I think there’s a monumental hypocrisy in that question, it’s the most hypocritical question I’ve ever asked in my life. Ask a kid if it’s his choice to take the Covid vaccine… I tried as much as possible not to be in contact with kids. Whether it was at the reception or at the voting booth, I did my best not to be in contact with children when the sting was near. I think it’s… it’s such a perverse situation, or at least for me since I’m going against the grain of it all! 

There were people who were pro-vaccine but not pro-childhood vaccine and they too did not know where to stand. Both in the administration team and in the medical team. There were colleagues who felt bad, but still did the act they were there to do, because they were paid to do it… And saying  » I don’t want to do this because they’re kids ‚ » could have resulted in a  » fine, go home and never come back. « So it’s either that or risk losing your job. Even though I have not personally witnessed any dismissals, « the fear of » is enough… And in my case, since I had two weeks left and the salary I had, I thought I could manage not to be in contact with children. Having 12+ coming in, that was the end of it… it was no longer possible! That and the arrival of the health pass in France. 

What was the attitude of the accompanying parents? 

The parents of the children who were there were very happy: they had big smiles on their faces, they were happy that their children were getting the shot, they thought it was great that children were finally being allowed to take the Covid vaccine and  » that we could all see Grandma together without anyone being at risk … While we now see that the vaccinated or non-vaccinated, it does not change anything in terms of viral load and transmission. 

I’m talking about this, it was the beginning of the month and now it’s August 26, that was four weeks ago! Nothing changes and in the meantime a more or less unknown product has been injected into the bodies of 15, 16, 17 year olds… In everyone’s body in fact! For me it is impossible for a child to understand the ins and outs of a Covid vaccine. Adults, who are supposed to have a critical mind and to be able to reason, to study different sources, are already unable or unwilling to do so, but then children of 12 to 15 years old, how do you expect them to do so! 100% of the children who came for vaccination had parents who were vaccinated. 

What were people’s attitudes toward the unvaccinated? 

There were many people who wanted to discriminate between vaccinated and unvaccinated. They wanted the non-vaccinated to be confined to their homes, not to go to restaurants, not to go to festivals… to be segregated, almost instituting an apartheid regime based on the vaccine. 99% of people assumed that the entire team at the center was vaccinated. And some of them came to talk to us in confidence, saying:  » Tell me, between vaccinated people, don’t you think that non-vaccinated people are selfish? Fortunately, I have learned to keep my mouth shut and not make too many waves. I would tell them they were right, and then  » have a nice day!  »

Have you ever thrown away vaccines at the end of the day? 

It is important to know that we had a fixed number of patients that was a multiple of the number of doses that could be drawn from a vial. A vial must be diluted and you get several vaccines. For Astrazeneca it was 12; for Pfizer it was 7; Johnson it was 5 or 6; and I don’t know about Moderna since we didn’t have any! This means that a fixed number of patients was determined per day. Now there were patients who were absent and we were giving exceptional appointments to some people who were not registered. So we had to make a list of people we could call in case we had extra doses at the end of the day. We made lists of people, usually people who had appointments the following week or three/four days later. We would call them and say,  » If you’re ever in the area, would you like to come in and do it at the end of the day today in case we have any extra doses? « And so one of the extra tasks that we had to do was to call people all day long until we had at least 6 or 8 people that we could call at the end of the day that could be there within 10 to 15 minutes so that we didn’t have to throw away doses. In addition to being a vaccination center, we were a call center! 

When you think about the cost of the operation, with a medical team that was paid quite well per hour, with ourselves being either directly taken care of by the organization, or with an interim contract, that certain periods like August were very calm but that we had to keep a whole team working, it’s incredible! 

Comments from a worker who wishes to remain anonymous, collected by Alexandre Penasse 

Notes et références
  1. Voir « Covid-1984, la vision d’un philosophe sur la période actuelle »,, et « Penser le totalitarisme »,
  2. Commission Communaire Commune, organisme public qui intervient en région bruxelloise dans les domaines de l’aide aux personnes et de la santé.
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