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 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. All vaccines prevent people from becoming ill due to the coronavirus. However, the vaccines work in different ways. See also the information provided on Government.nl.

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

  • After the second vaccination, you are well protected against COVID-19 7 days after vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine or 14 days after vaccination with the Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. After the first vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, you may still get COVID-19 because your immune response 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. See four reasons why the second vaccination is so important on Government.nl (in Dutch).
  • You are also sufficiently protected against COVID-19 14 days after one vaccination with the Janssen vaccine.
  • You are also sufficiently protected against COVID-19 14 days after one vaccination with another vaccine, and if you had already had COVID-19 before receiving that vaccination.

The vaccination also protects the people around you. If you have been vaccinated, you can still become infected, but it is less likely that you will be contagious. You have a lower risk of being contagious than if you had not been vaccinated. For that reason, people who have been vaccinated do not need to be quarantined after contact with a contagious person. 
 
To minimise the risk to the people around you as much as possible, you should wait at least 14 days after receiving your second vaccination with the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or at least 28 days after receiving a vaccination with the Janssen vaccine. After that period, the risk of becoming infected is so much lower that you do not have to go into quarantine. Read more about quarantine in the dossier on quarantine and isolation.

Equally effective protection with interval of 21 days (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) between first and second vaccination

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect equally well with 4 or more weeks between the first and second vaccination. After you are vaccinated, your body makes antibodies. 7 to 14 days after the first vaccination, 90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19. We do not yet know exactly how long a person is protected. After a few weeks, antibody levels start dropping and protection becomes less effective. That is why a second vaccination is needed, which you will receive about 4 to 6 weeks after the first vaccination. In response to the second vaccination, your body makes more antibodies that persist for longer and are able to resist the virus more effectively. In terms of protection after the second vaccination, it does not matter whether you receive your second vaccination after 4-6 weeks or a bit later: you are still well protected.

Contagiousness after vaccination

After you are vaccinated, you can still become infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The vaccination protects against illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.  Several studies have been published showing that vaccination also reduces the transmission of the virus from one person to another. The studies were limited in number and much of the evidence is indirect, but the results consistently point in the same direction: vaccination helps prevent infected people from infecting others. The Health Council of the Netherlands published a report on this on 20 May 2021.

Coronavirus measures still needed after vaccination?

7 to 14 days after full vaccination with one of the COVID-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca, Janssen, Pfizer or Moderna), 60-90% of vaccinated people are protected against COVID-19. This means that not everyone is protected. The chance of getting COVID-19 after full vaccination is very small, but not zero. If you do get COVID-19, your illness will usually be less serious. It is still important to follow the general coronavirus rules, even after vaccination.

How long are you protected after COVID-19 vaccination?

There is currently no data on how long the vaccine will offer protection.

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.

Effectiveness of 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.

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.

Janssen vaccine

The vaccine is 66% effective in preventing disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This means that in a group of vaccinated people, there will be 66% fewer people who get COVID-19 symptoms than in a group (of the same size) of unvaccinated people. The vaccine also protects 85% of vaccinated people against serious illness from the coronavirus.

Two vaccinations against COVID-19

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 (if you have not had COVID-19 before your first vaccination).  It is also possible to get a second vaccination with Pfizer after your first vaccination with AstraZeneca. Read more about that on the page: Questions and Answers about vaccination with AstraZeneca . Even if you receive the second vaccination later than advised due to circumstances, two vaccinations are still sufficient and you will not need a third vaccination.
     
  • Patients with impaired immune systems do need two vaccinations, even if they already had COVID-19. This involves:
    o    People with impaired immunity due to disease or medication
    o    People over 80 years old
    o    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 have additional protection after the second vaccination, they are also more likely to experience more side-effects, or develop more severe side-effects. 
  • 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.

One vaccination against COVID-19

  • If you are vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine. One vaccination with this vaccine is sufficient.
  • If you had a coronavirus infection (COVID-19) before your vaccination. In that case, one vaccination is sufficient. This does not apply for people with impaired immune systems and people over 80 years old. They do need two vaccinations. 

You already had COVID-19, so you only need one COVID-19 vaccination. 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. See Government.nl for more details. 

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

Yes, you can. 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 from the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), your GP or the hospital. 

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. 

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

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

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.

Young people receive the same dose as adults

In the Netherlands, young people aged 12 years and older can also be vaccinated. They receive the same vaccine dose as adults. The dosage is not adjusted based on body weight. Vaccine dosing is based primarily on how the immune system works, not on weight. Teens aged 12-17 years receive Comirnaty (the vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech). The complete series of Comirnaty consists of 2 doses of 0.3 ml (30 mcg/0.3ml). This dosage applies to all ages over 12 years and is not dependent on weight.

COVID-19 vaccination in combination with other vaccinations

Do you have an appointment for another vaccination (such as a vaccination against HPV, flu or pneumococcal disease)? Then schedule your COVID-19 vaccination appointment at least 14 days before, or at least 7 days after the other vaccination. If you develop any side-effects after the vaccination, this makes it easier to determine which vaccination is causing the side-effects.

More questions and answers about the flu jab, pneumococcal and COVID-19 vaccination.