2021 issue 6

15 February 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.

Progress report on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign

By Sunday 7 February 2021, more than 500,000 people in the Netherlands had received their first COVID-19 vaccination. Due to the extreme weather conditions (code red), all GGD vaccination sites were closed on 7 February 2021. The figure below shows how we are trying to accelerate the pace of vaccination in the Netherlands.

Schedule COVID-19 vaccination programme Netherlands

Comparison with other countries

The European COVID-19 Situation Dashboard shows the progress in the Netherlands compared to other countries: After a slightly later start, the Netherlands is increasingly catching up with other countries. The figure below shows the percentage of the population aged 18 years and over that had received their first COVID-19 vaccination (as of 10 February 2021). 

New target groups

Starting on Monday 15 February, at the GGD vaccination site in The Hague, the first AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered to care workers in nursing homes and small-scale residential facilities who were not covered in January. People working in rehabilitation care and disability care will also receive an invitation to get vaccinated. This will be followed by district nurses. Care workers aged 65 and older will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Starting this week, the first AstraZeneca vaccines will be administered to people aged 60 to 64 (starting with people born in 1956 and 1957), people with Down’s Syndrome and people with morbid obesity. The Association of Dutch General Practitioners (LHV), RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment and medical specialists are still discussing how to define the group of people with a neurological condition in combination with respiratory problems. This round of vaccinations will start in Zeeland, followed by North Brabant and Limburg.

Vaccination will also start on the Frisian Wadden Islands this week: Ameland (16 February), Vlieland (17 February), Schiermonnikoog (17 February) and Terschelling (18-19 February). Islanders aged 75 and older and care workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, through GP practices. Due to the limited number of inhabitants, the age limit on the islands of Vlieland and Schiermonnikoog is 60 years. At the express request of the islanders, vaccination sites have been provided on the islands so the local residents do not have to go ashore to get vaccinated.

Out-of-hours medical centres also vaccinate with Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Starting this week, vaccination for people living in small-scale residential facilities without an institutional physician will be expanded to include the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine. By making both vaccines available, they can be vaccinated more quickly by the mobile teams deployed from out-of-hours medical centres. 

Implementation guidelines and e-learning module on COVID-19 vaccination

The latest version of the implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination 2021 is always available online (in Dutch). Section 1.3 outlines the main changes compared to the previous version. The e-learning module on COVID-19 vaccination (in Dutch) has also been updated: a section on the AstraZeneca vaccine has been added to both the guidelines and the e-learning module.

Transport of vaccines between institutions

For occasional transport of vaccines between different institutions, a pharmacy or a certified transport company must be hired. This exclusively involves transport of remaining vaccines between different institutions if a vaccine order could not be utilised fully, for example due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination

The Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb has received a total of 15 reports so far regarding deaths shortly after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. The reports involved fifteen vulnerable elderly people who died between one and nine days after the vaccination. They all had multiple and/or serious health problems. Lareb announced in a news item that there is no reason to assume that vaccination played any role in the deaths.

Study on adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccination

As of 1 February, the Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb has started actively monitoring health problems after COVID-19 vaccination. In this study, vaccinated people will receive 7 questionnaires over a period of 6 months. This will provide more information about which adverse reactions occur, how often they occur and the course of events. People can sign up for this study within 48 hours of their first COVID-19 vaccination or after making an appointment to get their first vaccination. For more information about the study (in Dutch), go to: www.mijncoronavaccin.nl.

GP practices, hospitals and other care institutions can request free leaflets and posters to promote this study. These promotional materials can be requested via the registration form.

Public communication

Misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccination
For general information in English about the Dutch vaccination programme against COVID-19, see Government.nl. In addition, detailed information is provided in Dutch on the latest questions and topics about vaccination that are currently trending on social media and in the news, and readers are directed to sources of accurate information.

#IkStroopMijnMouwOp
A public information campaign tagged #IkStroopMijnMouwOp (“I’m rolling up my sleeve”) features celebrities as well as ordinary citizens from across the Netherlands, showing they are planning to get their COVID-19 vaccination. Erica Terpstra, Foppe de Haan, Noraly Beyer, Bennie Jolink, Eugènie Herlaar and TV doctor Ted van Essen are ambassadors for the campaign, encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Anyone who wants to show that they plan to get the vaccination can use the poster generator to create their own poster and share it on social media.

poster public information campaign tagged #IkStroopMijnMouwOp (“I’m rolling up my sleeve”)

Upcoming events

Extra attention will be focused on COVID-19 vaccination in various ways in the next few weeks.