Not packing a punch: empty appointment slots slow down vaccination rates in the Netherlands

Last week, the Dutch government had hoped to see 416,000 coronavirus vaccinations given. In reality, only 280,570 were given out. While there are enough vaccines to go around, people didn’t claim an appointment slot. 

Jaap van Delden, a vaccine coordinator at the RIVM, explained to journalists that “we had enough vaccines to inject quickly, but the appointment slots just didn’t fill up fast enough,”  the NOS reports.

The exact reason for this is unknown, however, Van Delden suspects that people may be choosing to delay receiving their vaccine dose.

Distrust in AstraZeneca vaccine

Van Delden also suspects that those who are being called for appointments may not want to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Last week, there were 100,000 time slots available for people to receive a shot of the vaccine. Of these, only 36,000 slots were actually booked.

AstraZeneca played a significant role in Dutch news this past month. The rollout of the vaccine was temporarily halted in the Netherlands due to concerns over blood clots. However, after two weeks the vaccine was cleared and resumed.

Outgoing Minister for Health, Hugo De Jonge, is uncertain of what caused this lack of appointments.

Long waiting times

Another potential cause for the lack of appointments may be the waiting times experienced by those calling to book an appointment.

Call centres must leave many on hold and Van Delden believes people may be hanging up before they can book their time slot. “We, therefore, advise people to make an appointment online where possible for their vaccination,” he says.

The bottom of the refrigerator in sight

De Jonge remains hopeful that the Netherlands’ vaccine rate will continue to rise. He hopes to see between 400,000 and 500,000 vaccines given in the coming week. In doing this, the Netherlands will once again have “the bottom of the refrigerator in sight,” he says.

Van Delden is in agreement, saying that in spite of the delays, it’s possible to vaccinate such a number in the next week.

Three million by April not possible

However, while the Netherlands may be able to pick up the pace in the coming weeks, Van Delden doesn’t believe it’s possible to vaccinate three million people by April 1.

What are your thoughts on the Netherlands’ current vaccine rate? Tell us in the comments below! 

Feature Image:Mat Napo/Unsplash

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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