Soon after the major polio epidemic in 1957, the Dutch government started vaccinating children against this disease. This was the go-ahead for the National Immunisation Programme, which was offered to everyone free of charge and to which other vaccinations were subsequently added.
Today, the programme protects children against a number of dangerous diseases and prevents epidemics. RIVM directs the National Immunisation Programme and coordinates its implementation by the Municipal Public Health Services, Well Baby Clinics and the Centres for Children and Families.
2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the National Immunisation Programme, which achieved 95% immunisation coverage at that point. In that year, the programme protected children against eleven serious infectious diseases.
The number of vaccines in the National Immunisation Programme has increased, vaccines are continually being improved, and the target group has extended from children to include 18-year old boys and girls. Based on ongoing innovation and improvement, the effectiveness and safety of the immunisation programme and vaccines are continuously monitored. Currently, immunisation is offered against 12 diseases.