De Jonge: No guarantee on Covid vaccines by July 1; Some will have to wait
This story was written in addition to the announcement that lockdown restrictions will be eased on June 5, and some large events like festivals will be allowed to start again with coronavirus access testing.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said for the first time in months that it no longer looks likely that all adults living in the Netherlands will get access to a Covid-19 vaccine by the beginning of July. Additionally, the country will begin looking at when children aged 12 to 15 can receive the Pfizer vaccine.
De Jonge confirmed that instead of receiving three million Janssen vaccine doses during the second quarter of the year, that figure will likely be just over a million. "I now expect that everyone who wants to have had a first injection by mid-July," De Jonge stated.
"This setback is so great, it really has an effect on the planning," De Jonge stated. Previous delays, like with a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines, were able to be compensated by accelerated deliveries from Pfizer.
"Vaccination works, but we are dependent on deliveries for the vaccination rate."
He said he had a conversation with Janssen Vaccines, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, but there is no clear picture about when the company's production issues will be resolved. "In the worst case scenario for June, we will only receive 400,000 vaccines from Janssen," he said. That means that the Netherlands may have to slow down allowing people to register for a vaccine shot based on birth year. The country was up to 1975 on Friday.
For now, there will continue to be an increase in weekly vaccinations until supply can no longer meet demand. "We are now handling one million shots a week. That will soon be one and a half million a week," De Jonge stated.
Among those next up to get their Covid-19 vaccine shot is Prime Minister Mar Rutte himself, who said, "I have my first vaccination appointment at the beginning of next week. We will take a picture of that and present it."
With the setback, people can expect to continue to be asked to work from home as much as possible. That restriction will likely remain in place for some time. "We still ask people to work from home as much as possible. That will not change yet," Rutte said. "We want to prevent that as long as we are not yet on the 85 percent vaccination rate."
De Jonge also said that the Netherlands is examining if the country should begin vaccinating more children, with the European Medicines Agency on Friday giving its approval to using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine with people from 12 up through 15 years of age. "We, together with the Health Council, will be making a decision about this in the coming weeks. We are not yet ready for that age group," he stated.
"We also have to see whether it is still necessary for group immunity," he continued. The Dutch Health Council will help advise if the benefits outweigh the negatives, he said. "I expect that we will make a decision on this before the summer."
Should the coronavirus situation continue to improve, he confirmed that many more lockdown restrictions will be lifted first on June 5, then on June 30.
"It will take a while, but the end of this crisis is getting closer with every shot," De Jonge stated. He called for, "Real togetherness. We are almost there."