In the COVID-19 vaccination programme, people are invited for vaccination in order from old to young. People who are over 60 years old have a higher risk of severe illness or death due to COVID-19. The older someone is, the more vulnerable they are to this disease. In addition, there are people who are at higher risk than others in the same age group, as a result of specific health conditions. For that reason, the people in these medical risk groups will be vaccinated sooner.

This page provides information about COVID-19 vaccination for these medical risk groups. This information is updated regularly based on new developments.

Frequently asked questions about vaccination of medical (high-) risk groups

Note: Are you a patient in one of these medical risk groups or high-risk groups? And do you have questions about the invitation for COVID-19 vaccination? Do NOT contact your medical specialist or GP yourself. You will automatically receive an invitation from the hospital or your GP. Always use the first invitation you receive.

A distinction is made between medical risk groups that are also eligible for seasonal flu vaccination, and medical high-risk groups as designated by the Health Council. The medical high-risk groups will be vaccinated first; the other medical risk groups will have their turn later.

A. Medical high-risk groups

There are groups of patients who have a particularly high risk of severe illness or death due to COVID-19. These people run a risk comparable to people around 70 years old. Therefore, the Health Council recommends that these groups be vaccinated as a priority. The following groups have been selected on the basis of this advisory report:

People who are very severely immunocompromised (i.e. their immune system is impaired):

  • Patients with a haematological malignancy/disease resulting in very severe immunosuppression and who have been monitored for this condition by a haematologist in the previous year;
  • Patients with severe renal failure (dialysis or in preparation for dialysis);
  • Patients who have received a transplant (organ, stem cell or bone marrow) and are severely immunocompromised + patients who are on the waiting list for a transplant;
  • Patients with a severe congenital immune disorder (primary immune deficiency).

People who are not severely immunosuppressed and who are at high risk of complications for other reasons:

  • Patients with neurological disorders accompanied by respiratory compromise;
  • People with Down’s syndrome;
  • People with morbid obesity (BMI > 40).

For an explanation on the selection process see the information letter on vaccination of medical risk groups (in Dutch). More information about the process and vaccination schedule is available in this flowchart (in Dutch).

Young people aged 16 and 17 years old who are in the high-risk groups can also be vaccinated. The Health Council published an advisory report to that effect. The implementation plan for this recommendation is still being developed. The minimum age limit for all other groups in the Dutch vaccination campaign remains 18 years old.

B. Medical risk groups

In addition to the high-risk groups, there are other medical risk groups. These are the same people who are invited for a seasonal flu jab from their GP every year due to their medical indication. They have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 that is approximately comparable to the age group of 50-59 years. This involves people with:

  • abnormalities and functional disorders of the respiratory tract and lungs;
  • chronic heart disease;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • chronic renal insufficiency; (dialysis and kidney transplant patients);
  • an immune deficiency or treatment with medicines that affect the immune system (immunosuppressants) leading to reduced resistance to respiratory tract infections.

People between the ages of 18 and 60 years old (born between 1961 and 2003) who are in one of the medical risk groups listed above will be invited for vaccination at the beginning of May. Some of the people in this group are also in a medical high-risk group (such as the dialysis and kidney transplant patients), and were therefore already invited for vaccination. The GPs select patients based on the General Practitioners Information System (HIS). This group will receive their vaccination at a vaccination site operated by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). The invitation will include additional information about making the appointment. 

It is possible (although very unlikely) that there may be people who have not been selected for COVID-19 vaccination, but do have (or believe that they have) an elevated risk of a severe course of illness from COVID-19. Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange exceptions to the vaccination strategy or the selection process on an individual basis. They will be eligible for vaccination based on their age at a later point in time, as soon as possible.

Safety and effectiveness of vaccines

All vaccines registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are safe to administer. This also applies to all risk groups and high-risk groups, including people who have impaired immunity or are taking medication that reduces immunity. There are only a few contraindications for vaccination, which can be found in the vaccination guidelines (in Dutch).

All the vaccines provide very good protection against severe COVID-19. 

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in (severely) immunocompromised patients is still unclear. The Health Council has recommended preferably using mRNA vaccines for severely immunocompromised patients. Even so, the advice is always to make use of the first vaccine that is offered, and not to wait for a different vaccine, since every type of vaccine provides protection against (severe) COVID-19. 

Vaccinated where?

People with Down’s syndrome or morbid obesity born in 1946 through 1960 will receive their vaccination from their GP. People with Down’s syndrome or morbid obesity born in 1961 through 2005 will receive their vaccination from the GGD. If they are unable to travel, they will receive their vaccination at home.

Patients aged 18 years and older who are in the medical high-risk groups will receive their COVID-19 vaccination in hospital. The route for patients aged 16 and 17 is still being developed.

People with neurological disorders accompanied by respiratory compromise will receive an invitation from a university medical centre (UMC). Those who are not mobile enough to travel to the hospital will be vaccinated at home.

Other vulnerable patients

The COVID-19 vaccination programme is a large-scale vaccination programme. The aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in order to reduce severe illness and death. For that reason, it has been decided to select the groups who receive the seasonal flu vaccination every year, since existing processes can be used that will accelerate vaccination. It is possible that there may be people who have not been selected, but do have (or believe that they have) an elevated risk. They will be eligible for vaccination based on their age at a later point in time. Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange exceptions to the vaccination strategy on an individual basis, also because of the limited availability of vaccines.

More information

The schedule may still change, for example due to delays in vaccine supply in the Netherlands or if there are other problems with a vaccine.

Overview of vaccination for medical high-risk groups

*Patients from this group who are unable to travel can report that fact. They will be vaccinated at home. ** The selection depends on the latest developments.

  Medical high-risk groups and risk groups Vaccine Vaccinated where? Vaccinated when?
1 Patients with a haematological malignancy/disease Moderna or Pfizer Hospital End of March
2 Patients with severe renal failure  Moderna or Pfizer Hospital End of March
3 Patients who have received an organ, stem cell or bone marrow transplant (including patients who are on the transplant waiting list) Moderna of Pfizer Hospital End of March
4 Patients with severe congenital immune deficiency Moderna or Pfizer Hospital End of March
5 Patients with neurological disorders accompanied by respiratory compromise*

Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or another vaccine**

UMC or at home End of March
6 People with Down’s syndrome who do not live in a residential care institution Astrazeneca,  or Pfizer

GP or GGD

Mid February
7 People with morbid obesity (BMI >40). Astrazeneca or Pfizer

GP or GGD

Mid February
    Vaccine Vaccinated where? Vaccinated when?
  Other medical risk groups  Pfizer or Moderna GGD May
         

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between the medical risk groups and the medical high-risk groups?

Both groups have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, or dying from the disease. They are therefore more likely to end up in hospital or die than other people in the same age groups. The people in the medical high-risk groups are even more at risk: about the same as people aged around 70. Therefore, they will be vaccinated sooner than the other medical risk groups.

At what age does vaccination start?

The minimum age limit for the Dutch COVID-19 vaccination campaign is 18 years old. Specifically for high-risk groups, the Health Council of the Netherlands has adjusted the age limit for these people to 16 years. The implementation for young people aged 16 and 17 years is still being developed.

What should I do if I receive two invitations?

You may be invited twice: by your GP, and by the hospital where you are being treated. This can happen if you are in one of the high-risk groups, or one of the medical risk groups. The advice is always to make use of the first vaccine that is offered, so you can be vaccinated as quickly as possible. All COVID-19 vaccines provide effective protection against severe COVID-19 (serious enough to require hospitalisation). 
If you receive an invitation from two different hospitals, please notify the hospital where you will not be vaccinated that you will not be using that invitation. 

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

No, that is not possible. The aim is to always to make use of the first vaccine that is offered. Always accept the first invitation.

What should I do if I get side-effects after vaccination that can affect my treatment, such as a fever?

Many people develop side-effects after vaccination, such as fever, headache or tiredness. These side-effects usually go away on their own within 1 to 3 days. In principle, they will not affect your treatment or disease. If pain or fever becomes severe, you can take a paracetamol. In rare cases, serious side-effects can occur after vaccination. In that case, always contact your GP or treating physician. See the information provided on thuisarts.nl (in Dutch) for more details.

I do not receive an annual invitation for the seasonal flu jab, but I do have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. When will I be vaccinated?

The GP selects the people who receive a seasonal flu jab every year. It is possible that there may be people who have not been selected, but do have (or believe that they have) an elevated risk. They will be eligible for vaccination based on their age at a later point in time. Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange exceptions to the vaccination strategy on an individual basis. If you are not in that group, then you will receive an invitation later when you are eligible based on your age. There is no reason to call your treating physician in the hospital or your GP about this.

I am not in a risk group, but my treating physician in the hospital and/or my GP believes that I do have a higher risk of serious illness. Can I receive priority vaccination based on that advice?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange exceptions to the vaccination strategy or the selection process on an individual basis. If you are not selected as part of a risk group, then you will receive an invitation as soon as possible when you are eligible based on your age. There is no reason to call your treating physician in the hospital, your GP or the GGD about this. 

I have never received an invitation for a seasonal flu jab, but I am in a medical risk group at this point in time. Will I be invited for COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. Everyone who has a medical indication and is in the risk groups based on their medical health condition at this time will be invited for COVID-19 vaccination.

I am in the high-risk groups, have a GP in the Netherlands, but am being treated abroad. When will I be vaccinated?

You will receive an invitation from your GP for vaccination by the GGD. You will receive the invitation in the same period as the (‘regular’) medical risk groups (between 6 and 20 May).

I am in the medical risk groups, but live abroad. My GP is based in the Netherlands. When will I be vaccinated?

You will receive an invitation from your GP for vaccination by the GGD. You will receive the invitation in the same period as the (‘regular’) medical risk groups (between 6 and 20 May).

I am in the medical risk groups, but my GP is based in a different country. I am currently living in the Netherlands. When will I be vaccinated?

In that case, you will be invited when you are eligible based on your age. No separate exceptions are made for this.

I am pregnant and am in a medical risk group or high-risk group. Can I be vaccinated?

Yes, pregnant women may be vaccinated. See also the recommendations on vaccination of pregnant women.