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Issue 28,  25 August 2021

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.

Progress report on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign

The 22 millionth COVID-19 vaccination was administered this week. Young people born in September through December 2009 can make a vaccination appointment as of their 12th birthday. They will receive an official invitation letter by post in the month after they turn 12. 

Now that many people are fully vaccinated (or will be very soon) and everyone in the Netherlands aged 12 years and older has received an invitation for vaccination, the number of vaccinations administered will start to decline. As a result, the vaccination operation is entering a new phase: moving from mass production to individual solutions in order to achieve maximum homogeneous vaccination coverage. The number of permanent vaccination sites operated by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) will therefore be reduced and opening hours will be adjusted. The GGD is also working with local organisations to establish contact with hard-to-reach groups and lower the threshold for getting a vaccination. As part of these efforts, the website www.prikkenzonderafspraak.nl has been launched as of 13 August 2021; this site provides insight into where you can visit a free walk-in clinic at any given moment, to get vaccinated without an appointment.

In this new phase, the implementing parties have more knowledge and experience about vaccination, while the implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination provide guidance on how to answer most practical questions. Therefore, as of 1 September, the LCI help line for COVID-19 vaccination, 088 - 678 8900, will change its opening hours to Monday through Sunday, 8:30 – 17:00. Of course, the National Coordination Centre for Communicable Diseases Control (LCI) can be reached 24/7 for consultation by the Infectious Disease Control (IZB) doctor on duty at the GGD in case of emergencies.

New colour of packaging and labels for Comirnaty®

Pfizer/BioNtech has announced a change to the outer packaging and the label on the vaccine vial of the Comirnaty® vaccine. Until now, the labels have had a white border. With the change, the labels will have a purple border. The change will take place gradually over the next few weeks. The instructions for using the vaccine remain unchanged. This message is for information purposes only.

European Medicines Agency (EMA)

The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends adding thrombocytopenia, dizziness and tinnitus (ringing or other noises heard in both ears) to the package leaflet for the Janssen vaccine as side-effects, along with a warning for healthcare providers and consumers.

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 all major changes compared to the previous version; more minor interim changes are listed under Version Management (at the end of the document).

Adverse reactions

Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb has posted a new update about reports of possible adverse events following immunisation with COVID-19 vaccines which were reviewed by experts up to and including 15 August 2021. So far, there have been 118,998 reports involving 622,163 possible adverse reactions, regarding about 21.9 million vaccines administered. The reports primarily involve known and expected adverse reactions such as headache, feeling ill, tiredness and muscle pain. See the updated COVID-19 page on the Lareb website for more information about adverse reactions for each COVID-19 vaccine

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.)

  • Wednesday, 22 September 2021, 20:00-21:00: webinar on the background of the COVID-19 booster vaccination, questions concerning vaccination of children and pregnant women, and the COVID-19 infection risk during pregnancy (MedicalScholing.nl, may be subject to change).

Editors

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 vaccin-covid@rivm.nl.

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