Callers jam phone lines for booster shots, Amsterdam to triple jab capacity


Almost a million phone calls have been made to regional health authority switchboards as people try to set up an appointment for a coronavirus booster vaccination, umbrella body GGD GHOR said.

The demand makes it even more crucial that people try to make an appointment online, the organisation said. Currently, everyone over the age of 60 is able to make an appointment for a booster – but places are in short supply.

People in Amsterdam are being told to make appointments in Woerden, Alphen aan den Rijn and Hilversum. One reader told he had a choice of late January in Amsterdam, or December 26 at 9.20pm in Purmerend.

Amsterdam officials have now decided to ramp up the local booster campaign from some 5,000 to 15,000 doses a day to meet demand.

In particular, people who have been twice vaccinated with AstraZeneca – mostly people in their early 60s – have been struggling to make an appointment, now that health chiefs have warned they have less protection against the new Omicron variant.

Jaap van Dissel, head of the public health institute RIVM told MPs in a briefing earlier this week that figures from the UK indicate that AstraZeneca offers ‘almost no’ protection against Omicron, although it may protect against developing more serious symptoms.

According to the government’s coronavirus dashboard, nearly 1.5 million people have had a third vaccine dose.

Three months

On Tuesday, the Dutch government cut the waiting time before people can apply for a booster vaccination from six to three months.

This means that everyone over the age of 18 will have been offered a booster jab by mid January, health minister Hugo de Jonge told a press conference on Tuesday evening.

By the end of next week, the over-45s will be called up to make their booster appointment, De Jonge said.

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