The head of the vaccination department at public health institute RIVM has been criticised after telling the AD in an interview that the millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reach the Netherlands in the coming weeks will largely remain unused.
So many vaccines will be delivered that the AstraZeneca vaccine, currently only given to people aged 60 to 64, will not be needed, Jaap van Delden told the paper. The Netherlands has ordered 11 million doses of the vaccine and some 1.5 million doses have been given to date. Most of the order is due to be delivered in mid May.
The chaotic introduction of the AstraZeneca vaccine – first halted, then allowed, then halted for the under-60s – because of concerns about very rare blood clots, has led to a low take-up rate in some doctors’ practices.
But the national family doctors association LHV has reacted to the comments, saying that the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely important, and that the interview with Van Delden has only confused the issue more.
‘The policy changes surrounding this vaccine are making it more difficult for doctors to ensure high turnout [for the vaccination]’ the organisation said. ‘This is absolutely not helping.’
‘As far as we are concerned it is clear: if the choice is AstraZeneca now or possibly another vaccine later, then the choice should absolutely be for AstraZeneca now.’
The European Medicines Agency on Friday also reiterated that the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine ‘outweighs its risks in adults of all age groups’.
Meanwhile, the LHV has also called on the government to set up a clear information campaign about the vaccination programme, partly which focuses on people living in more disadvantaged areas where the impact of ministerial press conferences is minimal and few people look at the RIVM website.
The call for a mass public campaign was first made by two Rotterdam doctors, who said just 30% to 40% of people in some areas were turning up to be vaccinated.
According to research by I&O in mid April more than four in 10 people over the age of 60 who still need to be vaccinated said they did not want the AstraZeneca vaccine.
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