NL will vaccinate care workers first despite advice to prioritise elderly
The Health Council advised to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to inoculate the elderly against the coronavirus. This is the first vaccine that will be available, with the Netherlands starting vaccinations on January 8. The government is sticking to its decision to first give the vaccine to care workers, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said in a letter to parliament, NOS reports.
According to the Health Council, people over the age of 60 are at the greatest risk of serious illness or death from the coronavirus. "The effectiveness of this vaccine is above expectations in the elderly. That is why the council advises to reserve as much of this vaccine as possible for this group and to start the vaccination with the elderly," the Health Council said.
A limited part of the Pfizer vaccine can be used to inoculate healthcare workers to protect vulnerable elderly and to guarantee the continuity of care, the Council said. The Council thinks healthcare workers should be given priority with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected at the end of the first quarter next year.
Despite this advice, the government is sticking to its plan to give the first vaccines to nursing home employees, employees in disabled care, and the district nurses, De Jonge said in a letter to parliament. This decision was made because the vaccine is supplied in large quantities and must be kept cold. This is easier to arrange at a central location, where healthcare workers can go for their shot.
The next deliveries of the vaccine will be reserved for people aged 60 and older, as recommended by the Health Council, De Jonge said.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in the European Union last week. According to the European Medicines Agency, no serious side effects were found and the vaccine is 95 percent effective, including in the elderly and other high risk groups.