Vaccinating 12-17 year olds against Covid will help prevent the spread of delta variant: RIVM
Vaccinating young people aged 12-17 against Covid-19 could help curb the delta variant, RIVM director Jaap van Dissel and RIVM infectious disease modeler Jacco Wallinga told NOS. Several delta coronavirus variant clusters were detected in the Netherlands this week, particularly in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, sparking fears of a fourth wave of infections later this year.
"In the most favorable scenarios, without the delta variant, the [virus] reproduction number in winter is around 1,” Wallinga said. That means that 100 people contagious with the virus will infect 100 others. “With the delta variant, even in the most optimistic scenarios, it will in any case exceed 1. So measures are needed. Vaccination of 12-17-year-olds could be one such measure," Wallinga said.
Currently, the only people in that age group who are able to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated in the Netherlands are those from specific medical risk categories. It includes people with Down syndrome, and people who suffer from a health condition that gives them access to a flu vaccine every year. The RIVM estimated it includes between 60 and 100 thousand people who will start getting vaccinated from mid-July.
Young people who are obese and those who live in a home with someone else in a medical risk group will eventually be invited, too.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he himself is in favor of allowing younger people to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease, but he will hold off on a decision until receiving final advice from the Dutch Health Council on the matter.
"We have calculated that if everything goes according to plan, 68 percent of the total population will have sero-immunity in September (antibodies against the virus measurable in the blood). If we vaccinate 12-17 year-olds, that will increase to 71 percent," Wallinga explained.
The RIVM previously said the variant will become the main coronavirus strain in the country this summer. They explained that dominance of the delta variant was unlikely to cause an increase in the number of hospital admissions in the short term, but if total coronavirus infections increase that will likely lead to an overall increase in hospitalizations.
Van Dissel stressed that it was important that vaccinations as it relates to the entire eligible population take place evenly across the country. "Even with a high vaccination rate of 85 percent, you still have a large group of unvaccinated people," he said.
"The best would be to have a 100 percent [vaccination rate], but there are people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons or those for whom the vaccines work less well," Van Dissel concluded.