The vaccine

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?


Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna vaccines

These vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 90% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The studies show that people who did contract COVID-19 even after vaccination became less seriously ill.

The vaccines are also effective in people aged 65 years and older.

AstraZeneca vaccine

The vaccine is 60-80% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 60-80% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The vaccine is especially effective in protecting against serious illness. Hospital admissions among vaccinated people are 90% lower than among unvaccinated people.

Recent scientific research shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine also works well in people over 65. The Health Council therefore recommends that the AstraZeneca vaccine also be used for this group of people. 

How long are you protected after COVID-19 vaccination?

We are not sure yet. There is insufficient data about this yet, since these are new vaccines.

Efficacy and protection

Do I still need to follow the coronavirus measures after vaccination?

Yes, you do. Everyone who is vaccinated must still follow the general coronavirus rules. Vaccination protects you from illness due to COVID-19, but we do not know yet if vaccinated people can still spread the virus. In addition, 60-90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19 one to two weeks after vaccination. This means that not everyone is protected. The chance of getting COVID-19 after two vaccinations is very small, but not zero. For that reason, you must still follow the rules, even after vaccination. That is why vaccinated people are subject to the same basic rules as people who have not been vaccinated, for the time being.

Can I still get COVID-19 after vaccination?

After the first vaccination, you may still get COVID-19 because your immunity to the virus is not yet fully developed. After the second vaccination, there is a much lower risk of becoming ill, because you are better protected. That is why it is important to get the second vaccination as well. 
Information on how effective the vaccines are is provided on the page about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Can I still infect others with COVID-19 after vaccination?

Vaccination protects against illness from COVID-19. We do not know yet if vaccinated people can still spread the virus. That is why we are erring on the side of caution: for now, vaccinated people are subject to the same measures as people who have not been vaccinated.

Side-effects

What should I do if I get side-effects?

Some side-effects occur regularly after COVID-19 vaccination. They usually start within 2 days after the vaccination. They almost always go away on their own. Common side-effects include pain and sometimes swelling at the injection site, fever, headache and tiredness. You  may also experience musle pain, nausea, vomiting and joint pain. You can take paracetamol to relieve the symptoms. Do not take more than the amount stated in the paracetamol package leaflet. If you are concerned even so, you can contact your family doctor. 

These kinds of side-effects are not a reason to avoid getting the second vaccination. You can report side-effects to the Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb (report form in Dutch).

Should I and my household members stay home if I develop a fever after vaccination?

If you develop a fever that started within 48 hours after receiving the vaccination, it is likely that the fever is a side-effect of the vaccination. In that case, it is best to stay home yourself, but your household members do not have to stay home. If you have a fever, but also have other symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as cold symptoms, coughing, or sudden loss of smell or taste, make an appointment to get tested. Except for the test, you must stay home, and your household members must also stay home until you get the results of the test. In case of doubt, you can consult the GGD infectious disease control department. If you develop a fever more than 48 hours after vaccination, you may have COVID-19. In that case, get tested; you and your household members must stay home until you get the results of the test.

Illness and medication use

I am feverish and have flu-like symptoms. Can I get vaccinated? 

If you have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, you should stay home and get tested. You cannot come to the vaccination site. Make a new appointment for the vaccination.

Can I get vaccinated if I have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, you must stay in home isolation until you are no longer contagious. You cannot be vaccinated until then. Vaccination can only take place at least four weeks after you started having symptoms.

Pregnancy

Is it safe to get vaccinated while I am pregnant?

Studies have not provided any evidence that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy would have an adverse effect. But given how little is currently known, vaccination is not currently recommended during pregnancy. The recommendation is to get vaccinated after your pregnancy. 

If you have any health conditions that put you at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, then the benefits of vaccination during pregnancy may outweigh the (theoretical) risks. Talk to your doctor about whether vaccination during pregnancy might be the better option.

If you are vaccinated during your pregnancy, please report it to Lareb. Lareb is conducting research on the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. All pregnant women can participate in the study during their pregnancy through Mothers of Tomorrow.

Can I breastfeed after being vaccinated?

Yes, you can. There are no indications the vaccine enters breast milk or reaches the child through breastfeeding.

One or two vaccinations

When is one vaccination enough?

A single vaccination is enough in the following situations:

  • If you had COVID-19 within the past six months. The infection already gave you some immunity, so one dose of a vaccine is enough to offer effective protection. The exception is people in medical high-risk groups whose immune systems are severely compromised. Those groups are listed here: 
  • If you are vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine. This is a single-dose vaccine, so you receive one vaccination.

When do I get two vaccinations?

  • If you are vaccinated with the vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty), Moderna or AstraZeneca, you will receive two vaccinations with the same brand of vaccine. 
     
  • Patients whose immune systems are severely compromised will receive two vaccinations: https://www.rivm.nl/en/covid-19-vaccination/professionals/prioritisation-medical-risk-groups
     
  • If you get COVID-19 after your first vaccination, the recommendation is to get the second vaccination. We know from research that one vaccination after an infection less than six months ago provides sufficient protection. We do not know if this is also the case if you get COVID-19 after the first vaccination.

Is it possible for me to receive two vaccinations, even if I had COVID-19 before the first vaccination?

Yes, you can do that. It is not necessary, but it is allowed and it is not a problem.  

How do I know for sure if I had COVID-19?

If you received a positive test result within the past 6 months from the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), your GP or the hospital, then you can be sure that you had COVID-19.

I think that I had COVID-19, but I did not get tested. What is the recommendation?

If you are not sure whether you had COVID-19, and you were not tested, then it is not certain that you had COVID-19. The recommendation is to get vaccinated both times.