The Netherlands began giving second vaccinations to nursing staff who first had the coronavirus vaccine earlier this month on Wednesday, but so far fewer than 200,000 people have had their first jab.
Sanna Elkadiri, the nursing home assistant who kicked off the Dutch vaccination campaign was the first to get her second jab, three weeks after the initial dose on January 6.
The Netherlands continues to sit close to the bottom of lists showing how the vaccination strategies are progressing across Europe and criticism of the reliance on rigid and complex systems is mounting.
Home nursing association chief Hans Buijing told the Volkskrant that the situation in nursing homes, for example, is ‘Kafka-esque’, with residents vaccinated according to the category they fell into, not the need to ensure an entire home had been covered at the same time.
This means that one resident may be given the Pfizer vaccination by a nurse from the home itself, but another may get a Moderna vaccine via their family doctor, he said.
Outside nursing homes, the 25 regional vaccination centres are giving no more than 10,000 people a day a vaccination – but that is supposed to triple by February. Some have called for army medics to be drafted in to help out.
‘But the army won’t be able to do a thing if we don’t have the vaccines in the first place,’ Andre Rouvoet, chairman of the regional health board association GGD-GHOR said.
By the end of January, the Netherlands will have had no more than 757,000 doses of vaccine, mainly from Pfizer, and a further 900,000 from Pfizer and Moderna are due in February. The Netherlands’ strategy has been based on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has now been hit by supply problems and has not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency.
In an effort to speed up the process, the government has agreed that the wait between doses can be stretched and that officials do not have to keep a second dose for everyone in reserve.
However, the bottom line, experts say, is to ensure more vaccines are produced.
A forecast by the data analytics company Airfinity and published by the Guardian suggests the UK will have achieved herd immunity by vaccinating 75% of the population by 14 July, closely followed by the US on 9 August.
The EU, Airfinity says, will have to wait until 21 October. The research is based on vaccine supply deals and known delays to date.
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