Netherlands to first get 500K doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine; Half fewer than expected
The Netherlands will receive a first shipment of 507 thousand doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus during the first week of January. The total is far below the 900 thousand doses predicted by Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, and will be delivered a bit later than expected, meaning the injections will not be distributed by the January 4 deadline the minister previously wanted.
De Jonge was accused of being unrealistic when announcing the deadline.
An additional 1.7 million doses is expected to be delivered by the end of March 2021, De Jonge said during a press conference on Tuesday. Patients must receive two doses of the vaccine for maximum effectiveness.
Staff members working in nursing homes will be the first to be vaccinated should the European Medicines Agency give its approval, followed by care workers who treat patients with disabilities, and then home health care workers. Earlier, the government's strategy was to first inoculate the elderly and people with vulnerable health conditions.
Instead, municipal health service GGD will establish 30 central locations by January where they can provide the injections. In many cases, these will be located where the GGD carries out testing for the coronavirus, the Health Ministry wrote in a statement distributed while the press conference was still being televised.
The change in strategy was because the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech must be kept at -75 degrees Celsius before it is used. A failure of storage means the doses will be wasted.
The ministry expected a vaccine produced by Moderna to be more suitable for distribution to nursing homes and care facilities. About 390 thousand doses of that vaccine will be delivered to the country during the first quarter if the vaccine wins approval from the EMA.
Those doses will first be given to nursing home residents and people with an intellectual disability who reside in an institution.