Dutch Covid vaccination plan called insufficient, over-ambitious
The government's plans to vaccinate the Netherlands against the coronavirus is far from sufficient, according to trade union CNV and health organizations Actiz and Verenso. CNV chairman Piet Fortuin is worried that, like with Covid-19 testing, the Netherlands will "fall dramatically behind" once the vaccine is here, he said to NOS.
"The vaccination of millions of people is an immense, unprecedented operation unlike anything seen before in the Netherlands," Fortuin said. He argues for a "military implementation plan" like in Germany, where vaccination centers are already being set up in sports halls and football stadiums. "Everything will be ready there in two weeks. The Netherlands is waiting quietly for the vaccine to be delivered. Only then to see how the implementation is going. A pure waste of time. If we continue like this, it will take another year before everyone has been vaccinated."
On Tuesday, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said that the Netherlands will start vaccinating people against Covid-19 on January 4 if all goes according to schedule with the European regulators' approval of candidate vaccines. Earlier in the day, the European Medicines Agency said it had started its evaluation of the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer. De Jonge said that in the meantime, his Ministry would start mounting the logistics to launch this wide-scale vaccination program.
According to the country's vaccination strategy, elderly people, medically vulnerable people and healthcare workers who come into contact with Covid-19 patients will be the first to get their shots. The vaccine will be provided to residents free of charge, and on a voluntary basis.
According to CNV chairman Fortuin, the government has a good idea of the order in which people will get vaccinated, but there is no implementation plan. "Just saying 'it will be fine' is not enough," he stressed. "The cabinet must speed up the conversion of test centers to vaccination centers. The rapid vaccination of millions of workers must also have priority, so that everyone can go back to work at full capacity."
Healthcare organizations Actiz and Verenso also raised concerns about the feasibility of the government's vaccination plans. "We are eagerly looking forward to offering the vaccine. But safe and responsible administration on this scale requires an operation of unprecedented scale with military precision," Actiz said to the broadcaster. The organization called a start date of January 4 "very enthusiastic and possibly a bit premature".