Colophon

12 April 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

Starting on Tuesday 6 April 2021, people born 1947-1951 are also being invited for COVID-19 vaccination. They will be vaccinated by the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (Comirnaty®).

Man receives COVID-19 vaccination at GGD vaccination site

AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria®)

It is probable that there is a link between the vaccine Vaxzevria® and the very rare combination of blood clot formation and a low blood platelet count. This was the conclusion reached by the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last Wednesday. An exact cause of this side-effect is not yet known. This particular combination of symptoms, also described as VIPIT (Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopaenia), could possibly be explained by an immune system response. The combination of symptoms will now be included in the package leaflet and product information for Vaxzevria® as a very rare side-effect. For more information in Dutch, see the explanation provided by the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB).

The Health Council advised yesterday to continue vaccinating people over 60 with Vaxzevria®. For other age groups, the Health Council recommends using one of the other vaccines. The Health Council emphasises that people who have already received a first vaccination with Vaxzevria® can, in accordance with the advice of the EMA, receive a second vaccination with this vaccine. So far, no cases involving this very rare side-effect have been reported after a second vaccination with Vaxzevria®.

The Minister has decided to follow the advice of the Health Council. For a number of groups, this means that they will receive a different vaccine. The best way to implement this change is currently under consideration.

Temporary transition from safety needle system to regular injection needle

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has purchased both safety needle systems and regular injection needles for use in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, such the market supply of safety needle systems was insufficient to meet demand. As long as supplies allow, the vaccinations will be carried out using safety needle systems as much as possible.

Due to a shortage of these safety needle systems, (some) vaccination sites will temporarily have to switch to regular injection needles. The regular needles are supplied in two lengths (25mm and 30mm). It is not possible to state a preference. These needles have a cap and fit the available 1ml syringes.

It is important for implementing organisations to check whether their procedures and working methods are sufficient for the use of regular needles and to adapt them accordingly as needed. As soon as RIVM has safety needle systems available, they will be supplied again.

 

Updated implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination

The implementation guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination 2021 have been updated. The latest version of the implementation guidelines is always available online (in Dutch). Section 1.3 outlines the main changes compared to the previous version; more minor interim changes are listed under Version Management (at the end of the document).

Public communication

People who want to know more about vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria®) can find the latest information here.

Editors

Editors: Vaccination implementation, National Coordination Centre for Communicable Diseases Control (LCI).

For questions and/or comments about this newsletter, healthcare professionals can send a message to vaccin-covid@rivm.nl.

Private citizens can call the public information number 0800 - 1351 with their questions.