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Issue 30,  7 September 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 23 millionth COVID-19 vaccination has been administered by now.

Additional COVID-19 vaccination

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a report on public health considerations regarding additional COVID-19 vaccine doses. The ECDC position is that provision of the recommended vaccination schedule to all eligible individuals should remain the current priority, in view of the fact that a significant percentage of the population has not yet been vaccinated, or is not fully vaccinated. The document also notes that it is important to distinguish between booster vaccinations for people who responded adequately to the primary course of vaccinations (to restore protection after it would have waned) and additional vaccinations for people with weakened immune systems who did not respond adequately (because they potentially may not achieve an adequate level of protection after the primary course of vaccinations). Based on the available evidence at this time, ECDC and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have stated that there is no urgent need for the administration of booster vaccinations, since all COVID-19 vaccines authorised in the EU offer effective protection against serious illness, hospital admission and death. The option of administering additional vaccinations to people with a weakened immune system, and possibly also to vulnerable older people (such as people living in residential institutions for long-term care), should already be considered now. EMA is currently evaluating data on additional vaccinations and will consider whether the package leaflets for the vaccines need to be updated. EMA will also be evaluating data on booster vaccinations. The Health Council of the Netherlands is currently reviewing the topic of booster vaccinations and is expected to publish an advisory report shortly.

Change in opening hours for answering logistical and medical questions

As of 1 September 2021, the telephone number provided for logistical questions, cold chain incident reporting, and product reporting for professionals (088-678 8900, menu option 1) now offers shorter opening hours. The number can be reached 7 days a week from 08:30 to 17:00. Product reports can be submitted by sending an email accompanied by photos to support.lcc@rivm.nl. The person who submitted the report will be contact as soon as possible on the next workday to discuss next steps. An emergency number is available for urgent situations involving exceptional vaccine incidents. The emergency number can be reached between 17:00 and 20:00. If you need to make use of the emergency option, please listen to the entire message under option 1 for professionals.

As of 13 September 2021, the telephone number provided for medical questions for professionals (088-678 8900, menu option 2) will also be changing its opening hours. The number will only be reachable from 08:30 to 17:00 on workdays. 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.

These updated opening hours are appropriate in the current phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, in which various vaccination sites are being scaled down and there has been a significant drop in the number of questions being asked.

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).

One of the changes to the guidelines is a note that pregnant women who have not yet been vaccinated should be informed of the importance of COVID-19 vaccination. This is because pregnant women have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than women who are not pregnant.

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 29 August 2021.

Public communication

In this interview, paediatrician and OMT member Károly Illy provides clarity regarding COVID-19 vaccination for young people aged 12-18 years.

A campaign was launched last week to highlight the option of getting a first COVID-19 vaccination without an appointment. Specifically targeting young people, the campaign includes a radio commercial, posts on social media and various posters in bus posters (starting in week 38).

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.