The Netherlands has ordered millions of doses of the new Pfizer vaccine for corona, which are due to arrive in December. The Ministry of Health say that as soon as the shots arrive, vaccinations will begin immediately.
The Ministry’s vaccination strategy will be announced later this month, reports RTL Nieuws. Millions of needles and syringes have been purchased in advance, and arrangements have been made for distribution and storage of the vaccine.
Vaccinating the Dutch population
Pfizer have said that they will have the vaccine ready by December. However, the company warns that there are still some final steps of approval that the vaccine needs to pass, so nothing can be guaranteed. Hans van Vliet, manager of the National Immunization Program of the RIVM, predicts that once we have the vaccine, it will take at least a year to vaccinate the Dutch population, reports NOS.
The Ministry of Health intends to vaccinate the elderly and vulnerable groups first, but whether this will be done with the Pfizer vaccine is yet to be determined. The Oxford vaccine from AstraZeneca and the Janssen vaccine from Leiden are also expected to be ready soon.
Different vaccines will be designated for certain demographics of the nation, depending on which vaccine is most suitable for the elderly. Van Vliet explains that this is why initially people will not be able to choose which vaccine they have access to.
Lagging behind our neighbours
The Ministry of Health has referred to the Netherlands as a “well-oiled machine” in that the Dutch have a lot of experience with large-scale vaccination programs. They expect everything to be ready in the first months of 2021.
The UK and Germany, meanwhile, have already announced their vaccination strategies. From December 1, GPs in England will be vaccinating the public seven days a week at 1,200 locations. Germany has called in its army to help prepare 60 large vaccination centres around the country.
No such plans have been announced yet in the Netherlands, as the Dutch intend to use existing facilities and systems. “We want to vaccinate as much as possible in places where this is normally done,” said Van Vliet. He described a vague combination of using GPs and sports halls, but what the exact role of the GPs and other organisations will be is unclear.
The Dutch vaccine strategy
The Health Council will present its recommendations to the Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, next week, including who should receive the vaccine first. It is expected that the elderly, vulnerable and health care workers will be of the highest priority, but it is unclear whether they will advise for children to also be vaccinated.
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