The Netherlands is changing its vaccination strategy to speed up efforts to protect people aged 65 to 75, health minister Hugo de Jonge has told MPs in a briefing, following mounting criticism of the slow rollout.
From now on, people in this age group will be eligible for the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines in addition to the Pfizer jab, De Jonge said. The Dutch health council has said AstraZeneca is a good option for people over the age of 65, reversing its earlier position.
From the second half of April, people in the 70 to 74 age group will be invited to make an appointment for their first vaccination and from the end of the month, it will be the turn of 65 to 69-year-olds, De Jonge said.
There is continuing concern about the Dutch vaccination campaign, which was the last in the EU to begin. Supply issues and a temporary halt to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over health concerns have only added to the problems.
MPs have also urged the government to speed up the process, demanding to know why the Netherlands is at the bottom of the vaccination score card while stockpiles are mounting.
‘How in God’s name is the Netherlands once again one of the slowest countries in Europe?’ far right leader Geert Wilders said during Wednesday’s debate.
Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are currently stockpiled and De Jonge has pledged they will be used up quickly. And he maintains that if supplies hold up, everyone over the age of 18 will have had their first injection by the beginning of July.
One in 10 people do not think that the vaccines will help get the pandemic under control and the percentage of people who have a lot of confidence in the vaccines has fallen from 60% to 50%.
Nevertheless, 70% of the population still plans to get vaccinated – the same figure as at the start of the campaign.
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