Dutch health minister losing public support over slow Covid vaccine rollout
About 44 percent of people in the Netherlands have less confidence in Health Minister Hugo de Jonge because of the country’s vaccination policy, according to a poll conducted by news program Hart van Nederland. Another 44 percent said their support for De Jonge has remained the same, while eight percent said their confidence in his job performance has grown.
About a third of respondents said they want him to step down.
The survey of about three thousand people showed that De Jonge lost support because of the confusion about who would first be able to get vaccinated and the slow start to the vaccination process. The Netherlands will inoculate its first resident, a care home nurse, on Wednesday. The country will be the last in the European Union to begin distributing its first vaccines.
The Cabinet rescheduled the start date twice. One of the main delays was the upgrade of an IT system to allow municipal health service GGD to track scheduling appointments, and which vaccine candidate was used on different patients. The GGD also needed to establish at least one mass vaccination point in each of its 25 regions.
De Jonge said on Monday that it may have been possible to start vaccinating people “a few days earlier” if he had asked the GGD system to begin scaling up preparations at an earlier date. De Jonge was likely to face criticism during emergency debates in Parliament this week.
Currently, only a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech has been approved for use. The European Medicines Agency could issue a ruling on a candidate from Moderna on Wednesday, and a rolling review of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University candidate could be concluded later this month.