Saturday 22 January 2022

Over-60s will get booster before the year end, minister says

Hugo de Jonge during the debate. Photo: Sem van der Wal ANP

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has pledged that everyone over the age of 60 will be offered a booster coronavirus vaccine before the end of this year – as long as their second dose was before the end of June.

The Dutch booster programme, currently by far the slowest in the EU, will now pick up steam, De Jonge said. This week, 200,000 people over the age of 60 will get a booster dose, and next week 350,000, the minister told MPs during a long debate on the government’s coronavirus strategy on Wednesday evening.

MPs from across the political spectrum have slammed the slow speed of the booster roll-out, describing it as ‘too little too late’. ‘Once again the cabinet has been caught by surprise, once again we are last,’ SP parliamentarian Maarten Hijink said.

In particular, MPs say the rise in deaths at nursing homes is attributable to the slow start.

Prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs that he too was sorry about the Dutch performance. ‘But we have to act according to the science,’ he said. It was not until November 2, that the Dutch health council recommended boosters, Rutte said.

During the debate ministers refused to budge on their decision to stop all sports in the evening, particularly those for children. The decision had been taken to reduce travel and contacts between people, the prime minister said.

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