Dutch government considers “nudging” people towards vaccination

It seems Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo De Jonge, among others, are at odds over whether an indirect vaccination obligation should be implemented in the Netherlands.

During a debate in the Lower House, Rutte proposed implementing strict measures for those who don’t get vaccinated in order to “nudge” them towards vaccination. These measures could include preventing non-vaccinated people from entering government buildings, concerts and libraries, reports RTL Nieuws.

“The cabinet will not be for coercion,” Rutte said, “but you can also nudge indirectly by stimulating people. That is really a medical-ethical point of view, we are currently considering that.”

De Jonge: no indirect vaccination obligation

The Health Minister argues that introducing such measures could be counterproductive, as many Dutch people have indicated that they do not want to be vaccinated. Surveys in June showed that almost three quarters of the population wanted to take a vaccine, but this week that dropped to 60%. The greatest difference was seen amongst young people.

De Jonge says it would be better to simply relax measures for those vaccinated rather than tighten restrictions for those unvaccinated, reports AD. For example, the elderly and healthcare workers who are vaccinated first would no longer have to keep the 1.5m distance.

Herd immunity

VVD MP Hayke Veldman pointed out that a large percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. Rutte agreed, arguing that if vaccinations are purely voluntary, “there may come a time when half of the Netherlands is vaccinated: that is still too little for group immunity, what do you do then?” The Prime Minister emphasized that this is something to think about.


FVD member Wybren van Haga reminded cabinet that “many people are terrified of compulsory vaccination” and that an indirect vaccination obligation would come as a threat to individual liberties.

VVD member Veldman acknowledged the importance of personal freedoms, but suggested that in times like these there are bigger things to consider. “Sometimes steps are needed of which you basically say: no, we don’t want that. Sometimes precisely because of the freedom you have yourself you need a step to protect the freedom of another. You will have to do that together. You have to think about that.”

Do you think there should be an indirect vaccination obligation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Feature Image: DutchReview/Supplied

Emily Burger
Emily Burger
Emily grew up in South Africa but has also lived in Egypt, the UK, Canada and now the Netherlands. She first came here for her Bachelors in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University and soon fell in love with the land of canals, clogs and cheese. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview.


  1. Medical data from across the world show that for people in the low-risk age groups the immune system’s natural response to the coronovirus provides a success rate of almost 100 %. The best vaccine developed to date for SARS-CoV-2 has shown a success rate of 95 %. Focused inoculation of those at greatest risk is what’s required, not blanket coverage; those in the low-risk don’t need to be inoculated, and should not be coerced or penalised in what is supposedly a free, fair and open democracy.


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