Everyone will be offered Covid booster shots, including those under 60
Covid-19 vaccine booster shots will be offered to everyone in the Netherlands, starting with some healthcare workers, the older population, and residents of care facilities. They will also be offered to people younger than 60 at a later date, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said at a press conference about new coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands.
Healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients will be offered the injection as soon as possible, GGD GHOR said on Tuesday. People over 80 who are able to visit a GGD vaccination center will be able to receive a Covid-19 booster vaccination there starting December 6.
According to De Jonge, it is not possible to administer boosters even earlier. "The course of action is now being planned," he said. The institutions that administer the injections still have a lot to arrange to make it possible, De Jonge continued.
From January, people between 60 and 80 years old will be eligible, They will be invited for their boosters beginning with the oldest. Everyone over 60 will receive this invitation from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). They will then be able to call a national hotline to choose a location and date.
The Cabinet made the decision to offer these groups of people a booster shot after the Dutch Health Council issued similar advice earlier in the day. Only the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will be used for the booster shot. The shot given depends on availability per location, and people will not be given an option to choose which vaccine they get.
The healthcare workers who can receive an extra vaccination are those with direct contact with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, home nursing care, and general practices. "This is to prevent healthcare staff from becoming ill due to Covid-19," said GGD GHOR. It is not yet known where these healthcare employees will be able to obtain the booster shot.
All residents over the age of 18 who live in a care institution with its own medical service will also be offered a booster shot. No date has been announced for this group.
Under 60s to get boosters in 2022
After people aged 60 and older have had a booster shot, people under 60 will also be eligible to receive an additional vaccination, said caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge at the coronavirus press conference. This goes against the advice from the Health Council which stated that the vaccines used in the Netherlands adequately protect most adults from serious disease.
By starting to administer boosters earlier, De Jonge wants to be ahead of the moment "when it actually becomes necessary." The minister wants to leave the choice of getting a booster shot to the public, also because it is not yet necessary according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
De Jonge says that the protection of vaccines is decreasing and that a third shot can enhance the effect of the vaccine. There is currently no sign that protection against serious illness or hospitalization has already visibly diminished, he stated.
The health minister specifically said that those most at risk of Covid-19 in the Netherlads is the 13 percent of people who are not vaccinated against the disease. He said that keeping people out of the hospitals was a main reason for new restrictions, like expanded use of face masks and coronavirus access passes.
Those restrictions may further divide society between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, as unvaccinated without proof of recovery from a coronavirus infection will need to get tested more frequently to participate in more aspects of society. "It's never too late to make the decision again," De Jonge said in an attempt to encourage people to reconsider their stance on the vaccination.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times