As of 21 May, RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment updated the guidelines for the interval between two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The interval can now be between 6 and 14 weeks. The guidelines were updated based on advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands. Since vaccines are now available in sufficient quantities for the age group of 60-64 years, the Health Council no longer considers it necessary to maintain an interval of 12 weeks. 

Based on the Health Council recommendations, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has decided to shorten the interval between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine wherever possible, within the framework offered by the product information leaflet. The package leaflet for the AstraZeneca vaccine specifies an interval of 4 to 12 weeks for giving a second vaccination. 

The interval had previously been set at 12 weeks (10-14 weeks in actual practice) in order to give more people the opportunity to receive a first vaccination. Now that the vaccine is available in larger quantities to give a second dose to the group of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, it is possible to return to a shorter interval of 6 to 12 weeks. There is still room to extend that to 14 weeks as needed. No set interval has been selected. However, there is now the option to accelerate full vaccination wherever that is justified and feasible.

Optimal interval

The Health Council has stated that it is not possible to offer recommendations for the most optimal interval based on the studies currently available. There is a trend that suggests that a longer interval may offer more protection. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence available to make precise statements on this matter. For that reason, the Health Council recommends maintaining the interval specified in the product information: between 4 and 12 weeks.

Second appointment

People who already have an appointment for a second vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine can in principle keep the appointment as scheduled. The updated interval does offer room for GPs to move the second appointment forward by several weeks. The schedule for RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment vaccine deliveries to GP practices will be updated based on the shorter interval. 

The Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) will be rescheduling appointments for after 21 June, moving them forward to an earlier date. Hospitals and mental healthcare institutions that still need to administer second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine can also adjust the interval wherever possible.