Dutch RIVM: Adults will have to take the Covid vaccine they’re given

AMSTERDAM - Adults living in the Netherlands will not be able to choose which Covid-19 vaccine they receive as long as there is a shortage in the supply of vaccine doses. That could lead to missing targets and not getting enough adults vaccinated by the summer, said Jaap van Delden from the public health agency RIVM on Thursday.

Van Delden offered an update to the vaccination strategy during a committee hearing in the lower house of Parliament. He said the government will continue to decide which groups are administered which vaccines based on the recommendations from the country’s Health Council.

He warned that the strategy would otherwise become even more complicated, and fall considerably behind schedule. Van Delden was however positive about the progress of the vaccination rollout in general, despite growing concerns regarding blood clot side effects with people given the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines.

All AstraZeneca vaccines will be needed to solely inoculate people over sixty at least until the end of May. The country will continue to follow Health Council guidance saying it will take a cautious approach to prevent severe blood clot cases by not giving the vaccine to people under 60, despite the European Medicines Agency recommending no such limitation. Use of the 80 thousand Janssen vaccines in a Dutch storage facility has been suspended pending an investigation in the United States, and a review by the EMA’s safety committee.

The Thrombosis Foundation, among others, also advocated for letting under-60s decide for themselves whether they want an AstraZeneca injection. Intensive care leader Ernst Kuipers also added his voice to the chorus of criticism, however, he understood the decision about Janssen.

The parent company, Johnson & Johnson, advised against the product being put to use for now. “There’s nothing that can be done about it,” Kuipers said. “It’s a case of force majeure if the manufacturer itself says the vaccine should not be used.”

Previously, D66 and Labour questioned the government's choice to prevent people under the age of 60 from receiving the AstraZeneca jab. Those issues were expected to be debated in a full session of the Tweede Kamer on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The RIVM sees the number of vaccines supplied and the number of injections at the vaccination centres steadily increasing, which van Delden found to be very encouraging.

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