This page contains information about the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen: how they work, what is in the vaccines and how effective they are.  

Which COVID-19 vaccines are being used in the Netherlands

Four vaccines against COVID-19 are currently being used in the Netherlands: 

  • Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Moderna
  • AstraZenecaNote: Previously, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine was temporarily on hold as a precautionary measure. Following an advisory report by the Health Council of the Netherlands, it has been decided that a jab with the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for people aged 60 and over, born in 1960 or before. People under the age of 60 will receive a different vaccine.
  • Janssen. Note: An investigation is currently underway into reports of this vaccine. The government is waiting for that investigation. Read more (in Dutch).

How vaccines work in general

The immune system in our bodies protects us from all kinds of diseases. That includes infectious diseases caused by a virus or bacteria. There are many infectious diseases that you can only get once – or, if you do get them again, your illness will be less severe. This is because your immune system remembers the virus or bacteria that made you ill before and starts making antibodies if you are infected with it again later.   

Vaccination utilises your immune system’s ability to remember. When a vaccine is administered, it mimics an infection with a virus or bacteria in your body – but without making you ill. However, your immune system does start making antibodies, and will remember what that ‘infection’ looked like. Once that happens, if you come into contact with the real virus or bacteria later, you will be protected.

How the COVID-19 vaccines work

  • The COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and by Moderna are RNA vaccines. These RNA vaccines contain a protective envelope of lipids (fat) with an instruction (code) that tells your cells to make spike proteins. These are the spiky protrusions on the exterior of the coronavirus. The immune system recognises the spike proteins as foreign substances and starts making antibodies. 
  • The  vaccines made by AstraZeneca and by Janssen are vector vaccines. The vector vaccines contain an inactivated cold virus (that cannot replicate) with an instruction (code) that tells your cells to make spike proteins. The immune system reacts by producing antibodies, just as it does in response to the RNA vaccines.

Ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines

Pfizer/BioNTech(Comirnaty)  Official Dutch package leaflet Vaccine factsheet
Moderna Official Dutch package leaflet Vaccine factsheet
AstraZeneca Official Dutch package leaflet Vaccine factsheet
Janssen Official Dutch package leaflet Vaccine factsheet

There is no gelatin, chicken protein or antibiotics in RNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna or in the vector vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Janssen.

Effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines


Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna vaccines

These vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 90% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The studies show that people who did contract COVID-19 even after vaccination became less seriously ill.

AstraZeneca vaccine

The vaccine is 60-80% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 60-80% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The vaccine is especially effective in protecting against serious illness. Hospital admissions among vaccinated people are 90% lower than among unvaccinated people.

Following an advisory report by the Health Council of the Netherlands, it has been decided that a jab with the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for people aged 60 and over, born in 1960 or before. People under the age of 60 will receive a different vaccine. See the  frequently asked questions about AstraZeneca.

Janssen vaccine

The vaccine is 66% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 66% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The vaccine also protects 85% of vaccinated people against serious illness from the coronavirus.

The vaccine has been approved for people aged 18 years and older.

Note: An investigation is currently underway into reports of this vaccine. The government is waiting for that investigation. Read more (in Dutch).

Duration of protection after vaccination

There is insufficient data about this yet, since these are new vaccines.

For more information, go to Government.nl

Video facts and fiction about the COVID-19 vaccine

Video on facts and fiction about COVID-19 vaccination

Watch the video on facts and fiction the COVID-19 vaccine