issue 3 2021

21 January 2021

The newsletter on COVID-19-vaccination is an RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment publication with up-to-date information for professionals involved in COVID-19 vaccination.

Vaccination figures

By Sunday 17 January 2021, nearly 77,000 care workers in total had received their first COVID-19 vaccination. As of this week, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment will be publishing an update every Tuesday on figures from the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Vaccination starts for residents of nursing homes and care institutions

Since Monday 18 January 2021, residents of nursing homes and care institutions for people with intellectual disabilities are now also being vaccinated. These vaccinations are being administered by institutional physicians and general practitioners. The first vaccinations will go to residents of twelve large care institutions that have multiple locations across the Netherlands. From 25 January 2021 on, the other institutions will follow. 

COVID-19 vaccination resident nursing home 18 January 2021

Advisory report of the Health Council/OMT and ministerial decision on vaccination strategy

During the second joint consultation on 11 January 2021, the Health Council of the Netherlands and the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) discussed which options are available to curb the epidemic more quickly (see advisory report of 14 January 2021).

One option to vaccinate more people faster is to give the second BioNTech/Pfizer vaccination later (after 35-42 days) instead of after 21-28 days.

For both mRNA vaccines, the vaccination schedule consists of 2 doses with an advised interval of 21 days for BioNTech/Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna. The efficacy studies for these vaccines included participants who received a second vaccination within a maximum of 35 (Moderna) to 42 (BioNTech/Pfizer) days after the first vaccination. The EMA scientific recommendation specifies an interval of 3-6 weeks for BioNTech/Pfizer. Some countries in Europe such as Germany, Denmark and France are already assuming an interval of up to 6 weeks for this vaccine.

On 18 January 2021, the Minister decided on a similar course of action in the Netherlands, extending the time between the first and second vaccination of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to 35-42 days after the first vaccination, in order to vaccinate more people faster. This new interval only applies to the new appointments. Appointments already scheduled for the second vaccination do not need to be rescheduled at this time.

Updated implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination

The implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination 2021 have been updated due to the new interval for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

Handbook on COVID-19 vaccination for immunocompromised patients

In addition to older people, patients who are seriously immunocompromised also have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. In consultation with the treating physicians working with immunocompromised patients (medical specialists working in internal medicine, pulmonology, neurology, gastroenterology & hepatology, rheumatology, dermatology and paediatrics), the National Coordination Centre for Communicable Disease Control (LCI) has prepared a Handbook to provide guidance to implementing professionals at the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), in GP practices, in nursing homes and institutions, and in hospitals when vaccinating immunocompromised patients during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the current phase of the pandemic. This handbook was added to the Implementation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccination on 13 January 2021. The handbook will be revised periodically as other effective vaccines are registered and become available, and on the basis of new research on COVID-19 vaccination for immunocompromised patients.

Various webinars available

Do you want to know more about the vaccination strategy or how mRNA vaccines work? Then watch the webinar for healthcare professionals that was organised by MedicalScholing.nl on Wednesday, 13 January 2021.

In addition, the Association of Healthcare Providers for People with Disabilities (VGN), in collaboration with interest group LFB and patient association KansPlus, organised two webinars on 19 January 2021 for clients and parents/relatives and for employees in disability care; these webinars can be watched again.

(Please note: these webinars are in Dutch.)

Visual fact sheet

A special visual fact sheet has been developed for nursing home residents and people with intellectual disabilities. Using clear illustrations and simple language, it explains more about the vaccination. The visual fact sheet consists of 2 parts: one for the residents and one for the supervisors. A short video with simple, clear explanations is also available in Dutch at corona.steffie.nl/vaccinatie.

Visual COVID-19 vaccination for nursing home residents and people with intellectual disabilities

Medical information on the RIVM website

The RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment website has been expanded to include medical information about the COVID-19 vaccination. This information is suitable for both professionals and the public and will be supplemented in the near future. This includes information on efficacy, side-effects, pregnancy, illness and medication, among other things. All other public information is available at coronavaccinatie.nl.

Willingness to be vaccinated

On 12 January 2021, the RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment Corona Behavioural Unit published an exploratory study on factors influencing participation in COVID-19 vaccination (in Dutch). This exploratory study contains concrete results and suggestions for communication and policy, aimed at informing target groups appropriately. This allows people to make an informed choice about whether or not to be vaccinated. Among others, the study identified key factors that are related to the intention to get the COVID-19 vaccination and information which is relevant in the initial phase of the vaccination programme.

Upcoming events

Extra attention will be focused on COVID-19 vaccination in various ways in the next few weeks. (Please note: all these events will be exclusively in Dutch.)

  • Thursday 21 January 2021, 16:00 hrs: livestreamed briefing by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment about the Dutch measures to combat COVID-19. View the briefing on youtube: https://youtu.be/AFVtbTYNZPA.
  • Thursday 21 January 2021, 20:00 hrs: Facebook Live session “A safe vaccine in record time, how is that possible? Ask science!” facilitated by Lieke Sanders (the National Science Agenda);
  • Wednesday, 27 January 2021, 20:00 hrs: pop-up lecture on COVID-19 vaccines by immunologist and professor of vaccinology Cécile van Els (Studio TivoliVredenburg);
  • Next week is Vaccination Week on BNR news radio in the Netherlands. On Wednesday 27 and Friday 29 January 2021, from 10 to 11 in the morning, RIVM staffers will be guests on BNR’s Big Five talk show. Wednesday’s broadcast features Jaap van Dissel, and Cécile van Els will be on the radio show on Friday.