Health Min. considering moving booster shots up after nursing homes' request
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge is looking into whether Covid-19 booster shots for nursing home residents can be brought forward. This follows an appeal by healthcare administrators and industry associations ActiZ and SPOT, who told Nieuwsuur that nursing home residents and staff cannot wait until December or January for their third shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The number of nursing homes with infected residents increased rapidly over the past weeks to 510, or 20 percent of all nursing homes in the Netherlands. "We suddenly have a lot of sick people in two weeks. We now see that residents are getting really sick again," Arend Pleysier of Sensire, with nursing homes in Gelderland, said to the program. "The pace at which this is going is of great concern to us."
Last week, the Health Council advised that residents of institutions and healthcare staff should get an extra shot to improve their protection against the coronavirus. The Ministry of Public Health announced that the first facilities would start giving boosters in December, but others would only start in January.
Nursing home administrators and experts are critical of this late start. "We want to give the boosters to residents as soon as possible," Pleysier said. "December is too late. There is no need to let it take so long. If we have the vaccines now, we can start in one to 1.5 weeks."
"We need the booster, and we've known that for a long time," Wilco Achterberg, professor of geriatric medicine, said to Neiuwsuur. "The immunity of nursing home patients goes down quite quickly, which means that we already knew we had to give it before the summer. It makes sense that they would be first in line."
Minister De Jonge said that he would look into speeding up the start of the next injection round in nursing homes. "Whether it can be done faster depends on whether we can get it organized more quickly," he said. "We should not underestimate what this means."
According to De Jonge, the admin that precedes a vaccination - nursing home residents must be invited, and they or a family member must give permission - takes time. "That's is apart from actually administering the vaccines and delivering them to these institutions. In particular, it is the process that precedes the vaccines that takes a lot of time."