Nearly all infants in the Netherlands are still participating in the National Immunisation Programme. However, the percentage of children who received the first MMR vaccination (around 14 months) in recent months is lagging behind the previous year by about 5%. The first DPTP vaccination (at two or three months old) is showing a similar lag. As a result, it can be stated that the corona crisis has had a limited impact on participation in the National Immunisation Programme for infants.
Fewer children than usual were vaccinated, especially in the month of March. That backlog was partly caught up in April. However, the percentage of vaccinated children is still lagging behind the previous year by about 5%. This is not unexpected, since children and parents are currently not allowed to come to the Well-Baby Clinic if they have mild cold symptoms or if someone in the family has a fever. In that case, the vaccination is postponed for 1-2 weeks.
More children are expected to be vaccinated in the coming months, catching up on the vaccination schedule. Overall vaccination coverage is not determined until children are 2 years old. For children born in 2019 and 2020, vaccination coverage will be determined in 2022 and 2023. Right now, it is still too early to say anything about participation in other age groups, such as the vaccination against meningococcal disease for 14-year-olds.
Major efforts by youth health care
Thanks to the huge efforts by youth health care services (JGZ) in the Netherlands, it has been possible to avoid a significant drop in participation in the National Vaccination Programme. The importance of vaccination has been emphasised since the start of the corona crisis. 200,000 parents of children aged 0 to 2 years old received an additional letter at the end of March calling for continued vaccination. The appeal was clearly effective.
Other countries such as England and the United States have also seen a decline in the first MMR and DPTP vaccinations in recent months. However, those countries showed a larger decline than in the Netherlands. By now, the percentage of children being vaccinated in other countries is increasing again.