The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has decided to resume vaccinating with the COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca within the near future. This was decided based on the latest scientific insights from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB). This means that the precautionary hold on those vaccinations that was decided early this week will be lifted in the course of next week.

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment will be working with the vaccinating parties – Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), GPs and mental health institutions – over the next few days to prepare to resume the vaccination campaign as soon as possible. This means that previously cancelled appointments will be rescheduled and that RIVM will resume deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines to GGD vaccination sites, GP practices and mental health institutions. The GGDs and some GPs expect to start vaccinating again in the course of next week. Some GP practices in Gelderland still have AstraZeneca vaccines in stock and may be able to start vaccinating earlier if that is possible. 

Safe and effective

EMA confirmed today that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, and that the benefits in terms of protection against the coronavirus are far greater than the risks. With regard to reports from other European countries of severe, very rare symptoms of blood clot formation in combination with a low platelet count, EMA stated that there may be a possible link to the vaccine. However, there is an “extremely small likelihood” of developing such symptoms, according to the EMA report. The package leaflet of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be amended as a result of the EMA findings, and further investigation will be conducted to determine whether there is a causal link. Around 20 million AstraZeneca jabs have been given across Europe by now, and more than 300,000 in the Netherlands.

Deployment of AstraZeneca in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been rolled out for people aged 60-64, people with Down’s syndrome, people with morbid obesity, and employees in mental healthcare institutions and in long-term care. General practitioners, institutional physicians and GGDs administer the vaccinations. Vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine started on 12 February. The interval between the first and second dose is 12 weeks.