Unvaccinated aren't to blame for Covid lockdown, says Health Minister
People who have elected not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 should not be directly blamed for the current peak number of coronavirus infections and Covid-19 hospitalizations, and the restrictions imposed on Dutch society as a result, said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. He also noted that if the vaccination rate were higher, the current reality might be different. It is also why the Cabinet approved scaling-up to providing booster shots more rapidly.
"I will not say that the current situation is the fault of the unvaccinated," he said during a press conference to announce new measures affecting many facets of life in the Netherlands. "If everyone was vaccinated, we would not be facing the current problems, which means we now have to take such firm measures that would not have been so needed if everyone had been vaccinated."
De Jonge said that he understood it takes time for people to overcome doubt and become comfortable with the idea of getting vaccinated. The government will continue to reach out to community groups and target neighborhoods to get more people to get a jab.
The unvaccinated are entering the hospital too quickly. We thought it would be spread out over a longer period. That is not happening," said Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "There are also vaccinated people in hospital, but usually only if they already have other conditions. We are not talking about guilt, and vaccination remains a choice. It is true that if you do not get vaccinated, you are simply much, much more likely to wind up in a hospital."
He added, "I would prefer to vaccinate people myself, but you need training for that."
"By the end of this winter, everyone will probably be protected, by vaccination or by contracting the virus. Let's hope that people overcome doubts before the virus reaches them," De Jonge stated.
The Cabinet announced on Friday that it wants as many elderly people as possible to get a booster shot before the end of the year. The Ministry of Defense will contribute 750 personnel, including students, to to help achieve this.
"The booster campaign is gaining momentum," De Jonge said. A large portion of people over 80 years of age already contacted the GGD to schedule an appointment, with the first shots given this week. Additional jabs have already been given to people with severe immune disorders, and some healthcare workers. Elderly people who cannot leave their homes will start to get boosters next week, as will adults with Down syndrome who live at home.
People residing at home are invited by age. Currently everyone born in 1939 or earlier has been invited by the GGD. Once everyone over the age of 60 has had access to a booster shot, those under 60 will begin to receive their invitation to do the same.