Website offering people leftover Covid vaccines visited by 70,000 hourly
A newly launched website that matches surplus coronavirus vaccine doses at a doctor's office with people who live in close proximity attracts 70,000 visitors every hour. Physicians have received a significant number of calls from people checking for unused extra Covid-19 vaccine doses in recent days, website co-founder Marlies Schijven told newswire ANP.
"People are desperate for a vaccine, the Netherlands would very much like to get vaccinated," said Schijven. The initiators of the website could not yet estimate how many vaccines were saved and administered thanks to the website so far.
Through the website, general practitioners and institutions can report any leftover Covid-19 vaccines they may have throughout the day. People are then able to search for an available vaccine within 20 kilometers of their chosen location.
According to Schijven, more than a hundred locations have now registered on the site. All physicians and institutions are individually screened to verify that the applications are genuine and that they are indeed willing to offer the vaccines. It is not yet known how many practices actually participate, as figures vary from day to day.
Due to the increasing number of visitors, the website interface was also slightly adjusted on Tuesday. The map of the Netherlands now only shows the location data of general practices that indicate that they have vaccines available. These are colored blue. Participating practices without available doses are marked orange and are only listed as, for example, "location #9".
Responding to questions about the website during a press conference on Tuesday, caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge once again expressed his disapproval of the initiative. He urged GPs with vials of leftover vaccines to contact public health agency RIVM instead so they can be transferred to other places where they are likely needed.
"Nobody wants vaccines to go into the trash, but we don't have a vaccine surplus, we just have a shortage. We also have an order [of priority] for a reason," he said.
Schijven argued that the initiative was not colliding with the government vaccination campaign, but rather an attempt to prevent any vaccine dose from potentially being wasted. She also stressed that any vaccines administered this way are subject to approval from the doctor.
"Ultimately, it is up to the doctor in consultation with the person," she said.