Health Min. says 700,000 Covid boosters this week; GGD isn’t ready for “booster offensive”
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge expects that 700,000 Covid-19 boosters will be administered by the end of this week, including a third dose of vaccines for people with health issues affecting their immune system. However, the GGD municipal health services said they still are not ready to meet the “booster offensive” De Jonge promised during a press conference last week.
Only about 81,800 people healthcare workers and elderly people have been given a booster vaccine, according to data from the RIVM through Sunday. The first was given to a 90-year-old woman on November 18. Compared to other countries, the Netherlands is lagging far behind in the number of booster shots. The Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe to start the new round of vaccinations and the number of booster shots that have been used is at the bottom of the European rankings.
This week, 800,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses are being transferred to the GGDs, hospitals, nursing homes and other locations where these vaccines are administered. The majority of those will be in an arm by the end of this week, De Jonge said.
A third shot is sometimes necessary for people with a severe immune disorder. This shot - and sometimes even a fourth - is part of their normal course of vaccination, and the extra jabs are not considered boosters. Boosters are intended for everyone, and are meant to maintain a high level of protection against serious symptoms of Covid-19.
The aim is for as many people over 60 as possible to have had their boosters before Christmas. According to the outgoing minister, the help of 750 people from the military and medical students is needed to administer vaccinations and tests to accomplish De Jonge’s goal. He also announced during a debate in the Senate that he will come up with a detailed plan for a booster initiative on Friday. These steps should accelerate the booster campaign.
The GGDs do not have a plan in place to speed up boosters
Four days after De Jonge’s announcement, the GGDs cannot yet say how they will speed up the administration of booster shots. This was reported by the national umbrella organization, GGD GHOR, which is working on a plan together with the RIVM on De Jonge’s behalf. This should include how students can help GGDs.
"That depends, for example, on the request for help from local GGDs. We are working on shortening this further. I assume that we will have a concrete answer to this before the end of the week," said a spokesperson for the umbrella organization .
At the request of the GGD, the Dutch Army will start training about 390 soldiers on Wednesday to perform coronavirus tests at GGD locations as soon as possible, an Army spokesperson said on Monday. GGD GHOR could not confirm this on Tuesday afternoon, because "coordination is still taking place" about the deployment of military personnel.
The Army said on Tuesday it does not yet know at which GGD locations the soldiers will carry out tests. A spokesperson said that he has not yet received any information from the GGD. It is also not yet clear what the approximately 360 remaining available soldiers will do for the GGD. "We are on standby and available, but a follow-up assignment is not yet in sight," said the army spokesperson.
Vaccination statistics last week
Nearly 33,000 people got their first shot against Covid-19 last week, the lowest number since the start of the vaccination campaign in January. A week earlier, more than 49,000 people received their first dose, and more than 67,000 the week before. The number of second jabs increased to over 56,000, the most in six weeks. More than 9,500 people received an additional dose other than a booster last week. That is the lowest number since early October.
More than 13.2 million people have at least received their first vaccination. Nearly 11.2 million of have also received the second shot. Of all Dutch people aged 12 years and older, 83.4 percent are now fully vaccinated. Last week it was 83 percent, the week before 82.7 percent.