16 March 2021

The newsletter on COVID-19-vaccination is an RIVM publication with up-to-date information for professionals involved in COVID-19 vaccination.

Progress report on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Starting on Saturday 6 March 2021, people in the age group from 75 to 79 years are also being invited for vaccination, from old to young. They will be vaccinated by the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Vaccination with AstraZeneca vaccine temporarily on hold

As announced earlier this week, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine is on hold for the next two weeks (until Sunday 28 March). The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) reached this decision following the advisory opinion published by the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB), advising temporary suspension of administration of the vaccine, as a precaution and pending a decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). 

The international reports on possible adverse effects include several thromboembolic events in which, following the known initial adverse effects after vaccination, such as localised pain, malaise and fever, after a symptom-free delay of +/- 3 days, there was a diagnosis of thrombosis with indications of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (swollen leg or spontaneous difficulty breathing and/or chest pain during inhalation) and/or thrombocytopaenia with indications of higher bleeding risk such as petechiae, purpura or spontaneous haematomas. If you encounter this clinical presentation, the recommendation is to follow your usual course of action, and to report the case to Lareb. No causal link has been found between the AstraZeneca vaccine and these reported events at this time. EMA’s safety committee PRAC is currently investigating the reports.

At this point, there is a temporary suspension of vaccination with AstraZeneca vaccines. Until the EMA communicates new advice, the AstraZeneca vaccines will not be recalled from the implementing parties.

People who have already received or are scheduled to receive an AstraZeneca vaccine, and who want to know more about this temporary hold on vaccinations, can find the latest information on the website of

Advisory report of the Health Council of the Netherlands

The Health Council recommends that the three COVID-19 vaccines currently in use should continue to be given in two doses, and that the second dose should not be delayed further. People who have had COVID-19 within the last 6 months will be sufficiently protected from one dose, except for patients whose immune system is severely compromised. In addition, the Health Council recommends that AstraZeneca’s vaccine should also be used for people over 65. However, administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently temporarily on hold.

The Minister intends to use these advisory opinions to continue improving the vaccination campaign. He will first consider the implications for implementing the vaccination strategy and the implementation aspects that would be involved.

Approval for fourth COVID-19 vaccine

visual COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen approved

On Thursday 11 March 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a positive scientific recommendation for the fourth COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union: COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen. It is the second vector vaccine, and the first vaccine requiring only a single dose. That same day, the European Commission announced that it had approved the vaccine for the European market. The Dutch package leaflet and a Dutch factsheet will be available shortly.

Updated implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination

The implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination 2021 have been updated. The latest version of the implementation guidelines is always available online (in Dutch). Section 1.3 outlines the main changes compared to the previous version; more minor interim changes are listed under Version Management (at the end of the document).

Excessive consumption of COVID-19 vaccination supplies

RIVM has purchased various syringes and needles for use in the COVID-19 vaccination programme. There are major shortages of these products worldwide, so it is important to minimise waste wherever possible. Some countries have already faced delays in their COVID-19 vaccination programme due to shortages of syringes and/or needles.

RIVM constantly monitors current inventory, and it has become apparent that syringes and needles are being used at higher volumes than previously calculated. Since the smallest unit that can currently be ordered is a pack of 100 (or 120) needles or syringes, deliveries often contain larger quantities than are actually needed to carry out the vaccination round that is currently planned. This mainly applies to vaccination sites that receive smaller deliveries of vaccine doses.

To mitigate the possibility of imminent shortages, it is very important to set aside any remaining syringes and needles and store them properly for future vaccination rounds, and to calibrate the next order based on the remaining inventory at that time. It is important to use these products responsibly so that the COVID-19 vaccination programme can continue without interruption. The syringes and needles supplied for COVID-19 vaccination may not be used for other programmes.

Missed the webinar?

Did you miss the webinar on “COVID-19 vaccination campaign: good vaccine management” provided by RIVM and the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate last week on the 4th of March? The webinar is available online.

On 11 March 2021, the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association (KNMP) gave a webinar for pharmacists on the vaccination strategy and the protocol for vaccination in GP practices; KNMP members can rewatch it online.

Public communication

Many people are wondering when they will be offered a vaccination against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This online tool gives you some idea of when you can expect to be invited. You will also see where you will be vaccinated and which vaccine you are likely to receive.


In a new series of videos, immunologist Marjolein van Egmond answers a number of frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. These videos are also used in a social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram.

Two new radio infomercials went live last week, one with Erica Terpstra and the other with Foppe de Haan. These public information resources follow the poster campaign launched a few weeks ago. Both ambassadors are in the age group from 75-79 years that started receiving vaccination invitations from 6 March on. The radio infomercials are available in the communication toolkit.

Video: setting up a GGD vaccination site


See for yourself how a former library was transformed into a vaccination site within a week and a half.

Upcoming events

Extra attention will be focused on COVID-19 vaccination in various ways in the next few weeks. (Please note: all events are exclusively in Dutch.)


Editors: Vaccination implementation, National Coordination Centre for Communicable Diseases Control (LCI).

For questions and/or comments about this newsletter, healthcare professionals can send a message to

Private citizens can call the public information number 0800 - 1351 with their questions.