Covid access passes to expire without boosters shots from Feb. 1; Booster total nears 678,000
The EU seems to be aiming for a mandatory booster shot within nine months to keep your coronavirus access pass valid from the start of February. This gives the Netherlands and other EU countries three weeks longer than initially planned to offer as many people as possible a booster shot. The European Commission had proposed January 10.
According to caretaker Minister Hugo de Jonge, the EU health ministers agreed in principle in Brussels, and the decision only needs to be formalized in the coming days. The digital coronavirus certificate (DCC) is "a good way to keep the borders open," he said. It is therefore essential that the Member States coordinate the validity for boosters.
Some countries have threatened to close borders to EU citizens who have not had a booster shot within six months of their vaccination. What coronavirus measures other countries take is up to them, De Jonge emphasized.
According to De Jonge, "jointness" is the keyword to get the coronavirus situation in the EU under control again. Member States should not take measures on their own to hinder free travel within the EU. "Out together, home together," he said. He is also in favor of requiring travelers, including vaccinated ones, who come to Europe from outside the EU to undergo a PCR test upon arrival, he told his colleagues.
According to De Jonge, he will not receive any criticism from the other Member States for the booster campaign's slow start in the Netherlands. "We also accelerated," he said. There are enough booster shots in stock to give all Netherlands residents two repeat shots, according to the CDA minister.
So far, approximately 677,600 people in the Netherlands have received a booster shot against the coronavirus, estimated by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Among them are over 255,600 mobile elderly who the GGDs vaccinated. That is about 174,000 more than last week. In addition, about 332,000 people got their booster in an institution or hospital. In the institutions, this concerns, for example, nursing home residents or people with Down syndrome. Hospitals vaccinate their doctors and nurses, general practitioners, and ambulance personnel.
In addition, slightly more than 119,000 people who have an immune disorder and did not build up enough protection with the first two injections also received an additional dose.
The Ministry of Health has passed the data on to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The European health service keeps track of international statistics on behalf of the European Economic Area. With fewer than 700,000 residents having been given a booster shot, or about 5 percent of adults in the Netherlands, the country was in last place in the European rankings.
The Minister also said he favored joint procurement of other medicines and resources to fight Covid-19, such as the rheumatoid agent Tocilizumab. The EU must become less dependent on Asia or the United States and build its own production capacity. Cooperation between European health services is also of great importance. "Public health is a national competence, but we found each other during the coronavirus crisis."
That is why he is enthusiastic about HERA - a new European health service that will play a central role in border-crossing threats to health.
Reporting by ANP.