Vaccinating the whole Netherlands against Covid will take at least a year: Health institute
While the availability of a working coronavirus vaccine is seeming increasingly within reach, with the Pfizer vaccine proving 90 percent effective this week, it will be some time yet before the new normal can be exchanged for the old normal, Hans van Vliet, manager of the National Vaccination Program at public health institute RIVM, said to NOS. "We will certainly be busy with vaccinations for a whole year," he said.
The Netherlands will get access to a maximum of 11.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. How exactly vaccination will be organized, is not yet known. The RIVM is "far enough" in its preparations to vaccinate Netherlands residents en masse, Van Vliet said. "But we are not quite there yet."
The intention is to vaccinate the elderly and vulnerable first. But whether this will happen with the Pfizer vaccine is not yet known. It may be that a more suitable alternative hits the market at around the same time. The trial results for other vaccines, including the Oxford Vaccine from AstraZeneca and the Janssen vaccine from Leiden, are expected soon. They may turn out to work better for the elderly, or less well.
According to Van Vliet, the decision on who will receive the vaccine when can really only be made when all the test results are known. "At least in the beginning, you will not be able to choose for yourself," he said, referring to when to get vaccinated, not to whether or not to get vaccinated.
Roughly speaking, Van Vliet thinks the population will be divided into three groups - the elderly and vulnerable will get vaccinated through their GP, others will be approached by the health and safety service depending on their profession, and the rest of the Dutch will be vaccinated by municipal health service GGD at specially set up locations. This is all currently under discussion, Van Vliet said.