Municipal health services getting ready for Covid vaccinations
The GGD municipal health services are getting ready to vaccinate the Dutch population against the coronavirus as soon as the vaccines are ready. The preparations currently mainly entail making plans, holding discussions with employment agencies, and preparing the IT systems for keeping track who was vaccinated and when, Sonja Kloppenburg of umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland said to NOS.
On Tuesday, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said that if everything runs smoothly with European regulators approving the two Covid-19 vaccines currently being evaluated, vaccination in the Netherlands could start by January 4. The government's plan is to first vaccinate the elderly, medically vulnerable people, and healthcare workers in direct contact with Covid-19 patients.
The elderly and medically vulnerable people will mainly be vaccinated by their general practitioners, not by the GGD. The health services expect to start vaccinating non-risk groups around August. But if it turns out that the first approved vaccines aren't suitable for the elderly and medically vulnerable, the GGDs will be ready to start vaccinating other groups "within a few days," Kloppenburg said.
"Are we ready now? Then the answer is no. But we can switch quickly. Vaccination is our profession," Kloppenburg said to NOS. The GGDs are already talking to employment agencies for finding staff to help with vaccinations, and working on retraining people from the Covid-19 test centers. Training for vaccination takes about two days.
How many people the GGD will need for mass vaccination is not exactly clear, but the service expects it will be thousands of people. "In a previous meningococcal mass vaccination we got 3 million injections with 7 thousand people at 200 sites," Kloppenburg said. The GGD expects that one employee will be able to vaccinate 20 people per hour. In previous vaccinations it was 60 per hour, but this will take more time due to precautions that must be taken because of the coronavirus.
The GGD will be able to handle this task, Kloppenburg expects. "Mass vaccination is a piece of cake for us."