The COVID-19 vaccines must be safe and reliable and work effectively. These aspects are evaluated 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. 

Risk of getting 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 COVID-19 vaccines.

Risk of infecting others after vaccination

Vaccination protects against illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. 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 basic rules as people who have not been vaccinated.

Coronavirus measures after vaccination

One to two weeks after the second vaccination, 60-90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19. This means that not everyone is protected. The chance of getting COVID-19 after two vaccinations is very small, but not zero. If you do get COVID-19, your illness will usually be less serious. For that reason, you must still follow the rules for everyone, even after vaccination. The policy may change once more information is available on how effective the vaccines are and how long protection lasts.

No risk of catching COVID-19 from the vaccine

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

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. Therefore, if a COVID-19 test is positive, it is not because of the vaccination.

Vaccine protection against variants of the virus

There are indications that vaccination does not work as well against some variants, such as the South African variant. Research is taking place at the international level to determine exactly what this means for people who have been vaccinated.

It is normal for a virus to change. Different variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been found all over the world. Since the variants only involve minimal changes in the virus, this does not mean that the vaccine will immediately no longer be effective at all. Even if a vaccine is slightly less effective against a variant, it can still offer protection against serious 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.

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is also conducting research on variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Read more about that research: Variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

How many 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. 

Even if you receive the second vaccination later than advised due to circumstances, two vaccinations are sufficient and you will not need a third vaccination.

Did you receive two different vaccines? If that is the case, you are probably still sufficiently protected against COVID-19. All the COVID-19 vaccines that are given in the Netherlands induce an immune response against the spike protein of the coronavirus. Therefore, your protection after vaccination with two different vaccines will probably be just as good as after two vaccinations with the same brand. You do not need to get a third vaccination. 

If you are vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine, you will receive one vaccination.

Only one vaccination after coronavirus infection

You only need one COVID-19 vaccination if you had COVID-19 within the past six months. When you were infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, your body already produced antibodies against the virus. When you receive one vaccination after that, your body responds by creating even more antibodies – in sufficient quantities that a second vaccination is no longer necessary. See the Health Council’s advisory report on a single vaccination after COVID-19 in Dutch):

  • Are you sure you had COVID-19 within the past six months? 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. In that case, you can opt to have only one vaccination. Please report this when making your appointment or receiving your first vaccination. You do not need to show the test result.
  • If you are not sure whether you had COVID-19, then you should get two vaccinations.

Some people with impaired immune systems do need two vaccinations, even if they already had COVID-19. This applies to:

  • Patients with a blood disease who are being monitored by a haematologist;
  • Patients with severe kidney disease who are on dialysis, or about to go on dialysis;
  • Patients who have received a transplant (organ, stem cell or bone marrow) and no longer have a properly functioning immune system, or patients on the waiting list for a transplant;
  • Patients with a severe congenital immune disorder.

In cases involving people who are living in a residential institution, have already had COVID-19, and are also in extremely vulnerable health, the physician will determine whether they should receive a second vaccination. This is because, although they will have additional protection after the second vaccination, they are also more likely to experience more side-effects, or develop more severe side-effects. 

More information about these groups on the page:  Vaccination of medical risk groups and high-risk groups