Monday 19 April 2021

Health boards having to refuse dozens of ‘harrowing’ vaccine requests a day

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Regional health boards are turning down dozens of requests every day from people desperate to receive their coronavirus vaccination, Trouw reported on Monday.

Many of those who called the hotline had serious underlying health issues but were not in the group currently eligible to be vaccinated by their family doctor, Jacqueline Toornen, spokesperson for the umbrella body GHOR said.

The GGD’s experiences contradict statements made by the government last week that its vaccination programme was falling behind partly because not enough appointments were being made.

Toornen said some people had contacted their local health boards with ‘harrowing’ stories of having lived for a year with conditions that left them afraid to go outside because of the risk of catching the virus.

Some even resorted to going to vaccination centres every day in the hope that there would be doses left over, but Toornen said they were almost always disappointed.

‘People are begging to be vaccinated. Often their stories cut right through the bone,’ she said. ‘Such as from people who don’t have long to live and want to spend a bit of that time outside. We understand why they ask and it affects us. But we don’t decide the vaccine strategy.’

At the moment the only people under 70 who are eligible for vaccination, other than healthcare workers, are those with obesity and Down’s syndrome. Hospitals are beginning to expand their vaccination programme to include patients in high-risk groups such as those with blood cancer, leukaemia and other blood cancers.

The Dutch Federation of Cancer Patients’ Organisations has called for all cancer patients to be added to the priority list and given their first vaccination by the end of April.

People with less severe health conditions who are invited to receive the seasonal flu vaccine will start receiving invitations in May and should have had their first injection by the end of June.

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