Get iodine tablets from the pharmacy
Within a zone of 20 kilometres around Belgian and adjacent nuclear installations (10 kilometres for the IRE Fleurus) there are preventive iodine tablets available at all pharmacists.
In every municipality within this zone, you can collect free iodine tablets as individuals or a community facility, even if the municipality is only partially within the 20 or 10 kilometre radius.
Do you live within this zone?
- First check if you still have iodine tablets at home. They are not expired (see below).
- Visit your pharmacist
- Take the identity cards of all family members with you
- Your pharmacist will give you one box of tablets per four persons
- Keep your box of tablets at home, like any other medicine, in a place that everyone knows.
Do you live outside this zone?
Even outside these zones all pharmacists in the country have boxes with stable iodine. Throughout Belgium we advise the most vulnerable groups to get free iodine tablets:
- children (<18 years)
- pregnant women
- breastfeeding women
- community facilities where (very young) children are present (e.g. day care centres, nurseries, kindergartens, primary schools and high schools).
Do you belong to one of these groups? Visit your pharmacist with the identity cards of all members of your family. Your pharmacist will then give you a box of tablets per 4 persons. Keep your box of tablets stored at home as you store other medicine, in a place that everyone knows.
Note that no one is excluded from taking this preventive measure. Grandparents can for example, keep iodine tablets for their visiting grandchildren.
In addition, there are centralized (in a pharmaceutical warehouse) and decentralized (at the Civil Protection units) strategic stocks present in Belgium. In the event of a nuclear accident, these stocks can be used quickly to bring iodine tablets to the intervention zone.
Do you still have iodine tablets at home?
The packaging of iodine tablets only shows the production date. They have a shelf life of at least 10 years.
If you keep your iodine tablets in their original packaging and in a suitable place (at room temperature, in a dry, dark place), they will keep for a very long time. Just like table salt, iodine in tablets does not go off. The amount of the active ingredient is more than sufficient to achieve the desired effect for many years.
Do you still have tablets with a manufacture date between Oct 2010 and June 2011 (lot code: 0L078A - 0L079A - 0L080A - 0L081A - 0L082A - 0L083A - 0L084A - 0L085A - 0L086A - 0L087A - 0L148A - 0L149A - 0L150A - 0L151A)?
If so, these tablets are still effective. The iodine tablets with production dates 2010 and 2011 have been tested for their efficacy by Sciensano for several years. In spring 2023, Sciensano did a thorough analysis of these tablets. These tests showed that the tablets still have a shelf life of at least 18 April 2024. The shelf life is retested every year.
However, as a precautionary measure to avoid a possible reduction in the tablets' effectiveness, we recommend getting a new box of iodine tablets from your pharmacy free of charge. The newer boxes available at pharmacies have a production date of 2017. You can simply leave the old box at your pharmacy. Don't hesitate to ask your pharmacist for advice.
Tip: Store the tablets somewhere you can find them quickly, for example in your medicine cabinet. Do not remove them from the packaging and keep them in a dry, dark place.