Dutch ICU leaders want hospitals to start vaccinating against Covid-19 on Monday
Frontline healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic in hospitals across the Netherlands should be vaccinated starting on Monday, said country’s two leading experts in intensive care. Diederik Gommers and Ernst Kuipers spoke on television program Nieuwsuur saying that the hospitals have the ability to store and administer vaccines, including the product from Pfizer/BioNTech which requires storage at -70 degrees Celsius.
Kuipers is the director of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and leads the Dutch acute care providers network. He thinks the Netherlands should immediately begin vaccinating healthcare workers who treat Covid-19 patients, intensive care and emergency room staff, and ambulance personnel.
“We believe that in healthcare, especially in situations where the pressure will remain very high for a long time to come, it is crucial that staff remains available to provide care," Kuipers said.
Gommers said he wanted to see doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which began to arrive in the Netherlands over the weekend, arrive at hospitals as quickly as possible. Gommers chairs the Dutch association for intensive care NVIC, and is a professor of intensive care medicine working at Erasmus MC.
He quipped that he himself would be willing to drive to Oss to pick them up from the warehouse if there were no other options available.
Hospitals have admitted nearly a thousand Covid-19 patients in the past three days, and about 200 people were moved into intensive care. The ICU and regular care patient totals on Wednesday were at their highest points since early May. The admitted patient total was projected to rise further, from about 2,700 patients on Wednesday to 3,200 patients next week.
Staff shortages at hospitals are also causing problems, Kuipers said. “Sixteen percent of the ICU nurses at Erasmus MC have reported sick,” which means fewer patients can be treated there.
The Netherlands is the only country in the European Union that has not started vaccinating the public. Workers who provide care in nursing homes and facilities for people with mental and physical disabilities will be the first to get vaccinated starting on January 8.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Wednesday that it was not possible to start any earlier than that. Initially, vaccines will only be distributed at a location in Veghel, then on January 11 vaccination points in Rotterdam and Houten will open. The plan is to have 26 mass vaccination centers open across the country by January 18.