The Netherlands starts vaccinating with Janssen on Wednesday
At the press conference on April 20, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that, following the European Medicine Agency’s (EMA) judgement on the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the first Janssen vaccinations would be taking place on Wednesday.
EMA recognises potential link between Janssen and thrombosis
Last week, the Dutch government revealed that it would follow the advice issued by Johnson & Johnson, delaying the rollout of the vaccine until the EMA had investigated whether or not the vaccine was safe.
On Tuesday, the EMA concluded that there was a possible link between the jab and very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets, and that anyone who receives the vaccine should be made aware of the potential side effects.
However, the safety committee stated that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. So far, of the more than seven million people in the United States who have received the jab, eight cases of thrombosis have been reported.
The Netherlands rolls out Janssen coronavirus vaccine
Following this judgement, De Jonge said the Netherlands would immediately start distributing the 80.000 doses it currently has in stock. The first Janssen vaccination took place in Leiden on Wednesday morning.
“The EMA has looked closely and states that the number of reported cases of the side effects is extremely low. This means that the vaccine can be used as planned and we will start with it [on Wednesday],” De Jonge said at the press conference. However, he acknowledged that, if new information arises, the EMA’s judgement - and the Netherlands’ decision - could change.
Dutch government looks to further speed up vaccination pace
The government has also announced a slight change to the vaccination strategy - the GGD, and not GPs, will now be responsible for vaccinating everyone between the ages of 18 and 60 with a pre-existing medical condition. The hopes are that this move will speed up vaccinations, allowing for everyone in this group to be at least partially immunised against COVID-19 by the end of May.
Another move that could speed up vaccinations would be to allow those between the ages of 18 and 60 to chose whether or not they feel safe receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The House of Representatives supports this plan, and De Jonge has said he is willing to look into the idea, but wants to prioritise vaccinating those over the age of 60.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccination took place on January 6, almost 4,7 million doses have been administered across the country. According to information from the government, five million vaccinations will have taken place by the end of this week. The Netherlands expects to receive a further 17 million vaccine doses before the end of Q2.