Give all NL residents over 60 first Covid vaccine as soon as possible: ICU experts
In order to relieve pressure on Dutch hospitals before the third wave of coronavirus infections reaches its peak, all Netherlands resident above the age of 60 must get their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, chairman Diederik Gommers of intensive care association NVIC and Ernst Kuipers of the national acute care network LNAZ said to NRC.
Many of the Covid-19 patients who currently need hospitalization fall in the age group 60 and older, Gommers said to the newspaper. "The predictions are that we will be on the verge of hospital capacity by the end of April," he said. Giving people in this age group their first vaccination as soon as possible, will ease the pressure on hospitals. "A Scottish study shows that once you have taken the first injection, you have a 90 percent less chance of going to hospital. That is the goal."
The government's vaccination policy is to hold an amount of vaccines in reserve so that second shot appointments don't have to be canceled should vaccine deliveries be delayed. Kuipers stressed that the second dose is important, but according to him, it can be delayed if needed.
With the third wave of covid 19 pandemic increasing in level, intensive care specialists across the country have been concerned about the further development of the crisis. Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said on Saturday that the hospitals would scale up to 1,700 intensive care beds if necessary, roughly the level of last year's spring peak. However, many have questioned whether this would be possible, AD reports.
According to the National Coordination Center for Patient Distribution (LCPS), on Monday there were 1,106 people in intensive care units across the country, 675 of them due to COVID-19. The latter number is more than a hundred higher than a week and a half ago. The RIVM expects the number of occupied ICU beds to continue to grow.
Rowan Marijnissen, a nurse at the Elisabeth-Tweesteden Hospital in Tilburg, and chairman of the V&VN ICV&VN Intensive Care association pointed out that medical staff is largely exhausted by the pandemic. Intensive care units are already faced with a shortage of nurses. And that is expected to increase as some staff are opting for early retirement, and it takes up to 19 months to train replacements, Marijnissen said to the newspaper.
"It is a physically and mentally demanding profession, especially in corona times. We also have colleagues who are still recovering from their own corona infection," she said. “When doctors say that it will be difficult to increase the capacity to 1700 beds, I absolutely recognize that.’’