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

Which COVID-19 vaccines are being used in the Netherlands

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

  • Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca. Note: 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.

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 AstraZeneca vaccine is a vector vaccine. The vector vaccine contains 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

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

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

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.

The vaccines are also effective in people aged 65 years and older.

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.

Recent scientific research shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine also works well in people over 65. The Health Council therefore recommends that the AstraZeneca vaccine also be used for this group of people. 

Duration of protection after vaccination

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

Expected vaccines

  • Janssen/Johnson&Johnson 
  • CureVac

For more information, go to Government.nl