Coronavirus vaccination fails to meet Dutch government’s targets
According to plans announced by the Dutch government on March 24 about the national coronavirus vaccination scheme, over 400.000 people should have received the jab last week. In reality, however, last week’s figure was nearer 280.000.
The Netherlands failed to meet government's vaccination targets
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge blamed the low number on the delays experienced by the GGD when resuming the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. According to De Jonge, rescheduling appointments that had been cancelled took longer than expected, and the backlog meant the GGD was unable to offer additional appointments.
On the other hand, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) attributed the disappointing outcome to the fact that not enough people scheduled a vaccination appointment. According to RIVM vaccination coordinator Jaap van Delden, “we had enough vaccines to inject quickly, but the appointment slots just didn’t fill up fast enough.” Of the 100.000 slots available for AstraZeneca vaccinations, only 36.000 appointments were booked last week.
According to the government’s initial forecasts, 500.000 vaccinations should take place this week. However, De Jonge has amended the plans and now hopes to perform 450.000 vaccinations this week, with a further 500.000 planned for next week. In spite of this delay, both De Jonge and Van Delden are optimistic that the goal to reach three million jabs in early April can be achieved.
Plans for GGD to significantly scale up vaccination capacity
The GGD are also optimistic about the future of vaccinations in the Netherlands, and are working to significantly increase their vaccination capacity. By May, they hope to increase the number of vaccination sites from 70 to 140, and establish 38 more so-called XL vaccination locations by mid-May. “We are preparing for 1,5 million injections per week,” said Tiemen Boemberg, the programme director for testing and vaccination at the GGD.
The GGD’s plans line up with the expected vaccination delivery schedules. The second quarter should see 16,5 million doses delivered to the Netherlands - considerably more than the four million doses received in the first quarter. Most doses are scheduled to come from Pfizer and Janssen, with the first Janssen delivery of nearly 170.000 doses expected from April 19.
Ernst Kuipers, chairman of the National Acute Care Network (LNAZ), has also said that hospitals in the Netherlands will probably be able to help carry out vaccinations against COVID-19 from May. “I am hopeful that the number of available vaccines in May will be so high that hospitals will be asked for help,” said Kuipers, who believes that hospitals could “easily” perform as many as two million vaccinations per week.