Some elderly people are being asked to travel more than 30 kilometres to get as their coronavirus booster vaccine this autumn, AD reports.
The public health agency RIVM began sending letters at the start of this month to everyone over the age of 60 inviting them for a booster shot.
The agency said it was operating fewer centres than last year because the virus is now classed as “endemic”, meaning most people have built up enough immunity through vaccination or infection to make a large-scale outbreak unlikely.
One 60-year-old woman from Friesland told AD she would have to travel for half an hour by car to get her vaccine because the local facility is not accessible by public transport.
Another woman aged 88 had been given an appointment at a centre 30 kilometres away, even though there is another one within 2 kilometres.
The vaccines are also being made available for people aged 18 to 60 with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or respiratory problems, as well as pregnant women and healthcare workers who come into close contact with patients.
However, these groups are not being sent reminder letters and must book an appointment either online at planjeprik.nl or by calling 0800 7070.
Local health authorities have set up enough vaccination centres to immunise 300,000 people a week against the virus this autumn, compared to between 700,000 and a million in previous years.
The size and distance between vaccination centres varies considerably. Some authorities have set up a few large facilities, such as GGD Brabant-Zuidoost, whose two centres in Eindhoven and Helmond can deliver up to 110,000 vaccine doses each.
By contrast, the GGD IJsselland in Overijssel has 11 smaller locations catering for up to 13,000 people each.
A spokeman for GGD GHor, the umbrella organisation for local health authorities, said: “We have looked as closely as we can at the cost, the deployment of staff and availability.
“We realise it is not always ideal, but we have to adjust to the phase we are in.”
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