Dutch vaccination rate stable again after years of decline

The vaccination rate in the Netherlands remained stable last year, seeming to indicate that the declining trend over the past years is coming to an end, public health institute RIVM announced on Monday.

The vaccination rate for most vaccinations that form part of the National Vaccination Program remained about the same as in 2017. Last year 92.4 percent of children had their vaccination against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and polio by age 2, and 92.9 percent had their vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella. Of the children born in 2016, 90.2 percent were fully vaccinated last year.

The national vaccination rate against HPV [cervical cancer] remained stable at 45.5 percent. If you include girls being vaccinated against HPV after their 14th birthday, the HPV vaccination rate is 48.5 percent. 

Last year 103 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with meningococcal disease W, compared to 80 in 2017, the RIVM said. Due to this development, the meningococcal C vaccine for babies was expanded to also include several other types of the disease, including type W. The government also invited teenagers to be vaccinated against meningococcal ACWY. A massive 87 percent of teens born in 2004 responded to this invitation and were vaccinated last year. 

"I am cautiously positive about the direction vaccination is going", State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, Welfare and Sports wrote in a letter to parliament in response to these figures, NU.nl reports. "The aim of my effort is to achieve health benefits, where that is possible with vaccinations." A higher vaccination rate reduces the chance of diseases like measles breaking out in the future. 

The State Secretary also said that he wants to give 16 and 17 year olds the chance to catch up on vaccinations they missed. This concerns 9.9 percent of boys that age, and 47.7 percent of girls. The vaccination rate among girls is that low mainly due to the HPV vaccination. If this vaccination is not taken into account, 9.4 percent of 16 and 17 year old girls in the Netherlands are not fully vaccinated. Only 2.1 percent of teens in this age group had no vaccinations at all.