The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is assessed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and in the Netherlands also by the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB). Even after vaccines are approved, they are monitored. More information about vaccine safety is available on Government.nl.

Risk of getting COVID-19 after vaccination

After vaccination, you may still get COVID-19. There is a much lower risk of becoming ill from COVID-19, because you are better protected due to vaccination. That is why it is important to get  the basic series of vaccinations and then a booster vaccination. 

How long after vaccination are you protected against COVID-19?

  • The COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca protect against COVID-19 two weeks after the second vaccination.
  • You are protected against COVID-19 four weeks after one vaccination with Janssen.
  • If you have had COVID-19 and then received a vaccination, you are protected against COVID-19 two weeks after vaccination.
  • A booster dose of the vaccine is effective one week after vaccination.

Contagiousness after vaccination

You can still become infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 after you have been vaccinated. Vaccination protects against illness caused by the coronavirus. Various studies have been published showing that vaccination also reduces transmission of the virus from one person to another.  RIVM research (such as VASCO) shows that vaccination significantly reduces transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. A booster jab offers 63% protection against transmission of the virus to other household members. A person who has a booster jab and later gets a SARS-CoV-2 infection has reduced their risk of passing the virus on to their household members by more than half, compared to someone who is unvaccinated and gets COVID-19. International research on transmission of the virus has had more mixed results.

Coronavirus measures still needed after vaccination?

After vaccination, you can still get COVID-19, and you would still be able to transmit the virus to others. For that reason, it is important to follow the basic coronavirus rules, even after vaccination.

Vaccine protection against variants of the virus

It is normal for a virus to change. Different variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been found all over the world. Since there are only minimal differences between the variants and the original virus, the vaccine will not immediately become ineffective. Even if a vaccine is slightly less effective against a variant, it can still offer protection against severe illness and death.

When variants of the virus occur, they will be subjected to research at the national and international levels to determine how they respond to the vaccines. RIVM is also conducting research on variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Read more about that research: Variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines

RIVM monitors how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in protecting against severe illness and hospital admission due to COVID-19. Effectiveness is monitored by analysing data from different registries and by conducting specific research:

Number of vaccinations in the basic series of COVID-19 vaccinations

When do I get two vaccinations?

If you get COVID-19 after your first vaccination, the recommendation is to get the second vaccination (eight weeks after testing positive). We do not know if one vaccination offers sufficient protection if you get COVID-19 after your first vaccine dose.

This does not apply to children aged 5-11 years; they are sufficiently protected if they have had COVID-19. They do not need to be vaccinated after recovery, but they can receive one vaccination if they want. Children in medical high-risk groups are always advised to get two vaccinations, even if they have already had COVID-19.

When do I get one vaccination?

  • If you are vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine. One vaccination with this vaccine is sufficient for the basic series of COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • If you had a coronavirus infection (COVID-19), one vaccination is sufficient.

When you had COVID-19, your body produced antibodies against the virus. After one vaccination, your body makes even more antibodies – so many that you do not need a second vaccination in the basic series. It is not necessary, but it is still allowed. 

People with impaired immune systems and people over 80 years old do still need two vaccinations after a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

I am not sure if I had COVID-19. 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 two vaccinations. Three months after your last vaccination, you can get a booster vaccination.

No risk of catching COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine

You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The vaccines do not contain coronavirus particles.

Influence of vaccination on COVID-19 testing

The vaccination does not affect the COVID-19 tests – such as the PCR test and the rapid antigen test – used by the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) to detect infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, if a COVID-19 test is positive, it is not because of the vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination in combination with other vaccinations

You can receive several different vaccinations within a short time period. Our immune system can respond to multiple pathogens or vaccines at the same time. Infants also receive several vaccinations against different diseases within a short time, to protect them properly.