Issue 2, 30 December 2020

30 December 2020

The newsletter on COVID-19-vaccination is an RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment publication with up-to-date information for professionals involved in COVID-19 vaccination.

Approval for first vaccine against COVID-19

On Monday 21 December 2020, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a positive scientific recommendation for the first COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union: Comirnaty, the mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. This was sooner than expected. That same evening, the European Commission announced that it had approved the vaccine for the European market. The Minister then asked the Health Council of the Netherlands for advice on the suitability of Comirnaty for the specific target groups. The advisory report was released in Dutch on 24 December 2020, and the English version is expected shortly. The Minister is expected to respond to the Health Council’s advisory report next week. The first delivery of the vaccine will probably take place at the end of December. Meanwhile, the ‘Summary of Product Characteristics’ is also available, as well as a Dutch factsheet on Comirnaty.

Note: According to the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB), there is no evidence that the vaccine would not be effective against a mutated, more contagious variant currently circulating in the UK.
The EMA scientific recommendation may also be provided earlier than expected for the second vaccine, submitted by Moderna, due to an additional meeting of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) on 6 January 2021.

Preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, and how to deal with sceptics

In this podcast (only in Dutch), Hans van Vliet (programme manager for COVID-19 vaccination, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment ) and Olga Visser (medical specialist in infectious disease control, Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) for the Utrecht region) offer a glimpse of what is happening in the preparations for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The podcast also looks at the role of the physician: what responsibility does a doctor have, and how do they deal with sceptics?

Video: 4 questions and answers on pressing vaccine issues (only in Dutch)

Curacao, Aruba and St Maarten: COVID-19 vaccination goes to the ill and the elderly first

The Health Council of the Netherlands has advised applying the same vaccination strategy for COVID-19 on Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten as in the European part of the Netherlands and on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba (BES islands). This means that people aged over 60 years and medical risk groups will be the first to be vaccinated. The final vaccination strategy may deviate slightly from the Health Council’s advisory report for logistical reasons.

Communication

Public

In the week of 14 December 2020, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) launched the public campaign on COVID-19 vaccination with radio commercials and newspaper advertisements. People will also be informed via social media and online ads. Outdoor advertising and TV commercials will follow later in the campaign. The campaign is intended to help ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The website at www.coronavaccinatie.nl, currently available only in Dutch, is an important part of this campaign. People who may still have doubts about vaccination will find the information they need to make a well-informed choice on that website. As a healthcare professional, you can also refer people who have questions or doubts to this website.

Professionals

Information for professionals involved in implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination is provided at https://www.rivm.nl/en/covid-19-vaccination-for-professionals. The following items will be added in the coming period:
Provisional guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination (online in the first week of January 2021)

  • The provisional implementing guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination were drafted by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment together with the relevant (implementing) professional groups and organisations. The Dutch version is expected to be finalised by 31 December 2020 at the latest, and the final English version will be online in the first week of January.
  • E-learning module on COVID-19 vaccination (online on 4 January 2021)
  • The e-learning module includes a general section (covering such topics as vaccine development, target groups, stakeholder roles, implementation aspects and dialogue scripts) as well as vaccine-specific chapters. An application for accreditation is being submitted. The e-learning module is only available in Dutch.
  • Q&As about COVID-19 vaccination
  • Logistical and medical questions

From 4 January 2021 on, a special telephone number (088- 6788900) will be available during office hours for 1) logistical questions (questions about vaccines, vaccine delivery, vaccine management, product complaints and vaccine incidents, 2) medical questions (first check the COVID-19 Vaccination Guidelines and the Q&As) and 3) registration questions (requesting vaccination data, if recorded in the central register). Side effects of the vaccine can be reported to Lareb on telephone number 073-6469700 or at www.lareb.nl.


Not all aspects regarding implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination are known yet. The information on the website will therefore be updated on an ongoing basis as the situation requires.