Covid booster for risk groups starting from Oct. 2; hospitalizations on the rise
A new Covid vaccination campaign for risk groups will start in October. People aged over 60 will soon receive an invitation, the RIVM reported on Wednesday. This announcement comes as hospitals in the Netherlands observe an increase in patients admitted with serious symptoms of Covid-19.
Starting 19 September 2023, the RIVM, the country's public health institute, will begin sending the first invitations, prioritizing individuals aged 60 and older. From 2 October 2023, Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) will start the vaccinations, which will extend until the end of December 2023. The latest available vaccine will be used, which has been adapted to target the XBB variant.
Care workers, pregnant women, and individuals aged between 18 and 59 who usually receive an annual invitation for the flu vaccine will not receive an invitation letter. Starting in mid-October, these groups, as well as those not initially targeted but who wish to receive the vaccination due to vulnerable family members or upon the recommendation of their treating physician, can arrange appointments with the GGD.
Residents in care facilities have the option to get vaccinated either onsite or at a GGD vaccination center. Those at a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 who cannot travel to a GGD center can coordinate with their local GGD to organize home vaccinations by a mobile team.
“The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is still present and may rise again,” stated the RIVM on their website. They emphasized the critical importance of the vaccination, especially for high-risk individuals, noting its effectiveness in bolstering protection against hospital admissions and reducing mortality rates due to Covid-19.
The RIVM also clarified that not everyone in the Netherlands needs to receive the vaccine as widespread protection has already been achieved through vaccinations, past infections, or a combination of both.
This announcement occurs amid an increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 symptoms being treated in Dutch hospitals, according to recent data from the national patient distribution service LCPS.
Since the announcement on 18 August marking the first time no Covid-19 patients were in intensive care units since the beginning of the pandemic, the number has increased to 17 by Tuesday afternoon, doubling since Monday and reaching the highest total since 19 May. Outside of intensive care units, patient admissions have risen to 204, the peak since 11 May.
In the past week, intensive care units admitted an average of two patients daily, while other hospital departments admitted around 43 patients each day.