AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 60 to 64 and care workers
The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford will be made available for people aged 60 to 64 and long-term care workers. With this, outgoing Health Minister Hugo De Jonge opts for an interim solution to accommodate both groups.
The Ministry aims to distribute 1.5 million vaccines from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company in the near future, where previously 4.5 million injections were taking into account. “It is a choice in terms of scarcity, and that always leads to complicated dilemmas,” said De Jonge. “I wanted to serve both groups in this way.” Due to De Jonge’s new assessment, the group in their sixties will receive a jab a few months earlier than expected. The vaccination of the two groups will be spread over February and March.
The Health Council advised on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be used initially for people aged 60 to 64. However, Hugo De Jonge had already agreed to give people who work in nursing homes and care homes for people with disabilities the vaccine first. “this is a combination between my earlier promise and the advice of the Health Council,” said the minister.
De Jonge does not want to sail solely on the advice of the experts of the Health Council. “That would not allow me to keep to my previous agreement.” The CDA minister says that due to a mix, employees in long-term care – such as district nurses – can also receive a jab in February or March, with a possible extension in April. “Because they are on the front line. It will take us two months for those two groups. I want to see both sides.”
Fluctuating vaccination plan
The cabinet’s vaccination schedule, De Jonge warned at its presentation, must regularly be overhauled because the vaccines’ deliveries are not set in stone. “It’s annoying, isn’t it, that you don’t really know anything for sure,” De Jonge pointed out again on Friday.
Despite the setback at AstraZeneca, what will not change is the expectation that all adults will be vaccinated by the end of September at the latest. “If we look over the quarters, we can see that a good 20 million vaccines are expected in the second quarter, and in the third quarter as well,” explains De Jonge. This means that “all groups that the Health Council could think of as a priority” must also be vaccinated before the summer, the minister expects.
The AstraZeneca vaccine works well in adults and groups with higher medical risks. It is not yet easy to calculate the efficacy in people over 55 because they only participated in the clinical studies to a limited extent. The vaccine does induce an immune response in them that is comparable to the age group 18 to 55. The Health Council therefore assumes that the vaccine is suitable for people up to the age of 65. In older people, the AstraZeneca shot is less effective than the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.