Front line workers get COVID jabs in Netherlands
COVID-19 inoculations were being carried out at a health centre in the Dutch town of Houten on Friday after the country kickstarted its vaccination programme on Wednesday, with care home staff and frontline workers in hospitals first in line for the shot.
The rollout came nearly two weeks after most other European Union nations and the Dutch government has come under fierce criticism for the late start.
Authorities had focused preparations on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been cleared for use in the EU, and not the vaccine produced by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
The EU has sealed six vaccine contracts for up to 2 billion doses, with Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac.
But only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been approved for use so far in the 27-nation bloc.
In the next few weeks, Dutch authorities are planning to vaccinate about 30,000 health workers who are care home staff and frontline workers in hospitals, and 600,000 people in the whole health care sector in the next four weeks.
The rollout will continue covering people with health risks and seniors in the second and third quarter.
The rest of the 7.1 million people belonging to the general population (18-60 years old) will be vaccinated in the third quarter of 2021.
The Netherlands is in the midst of a five-week tough lockdown imposed over surging infection rates.
Nearly 12,000 people are confirmed to have died of COVID-19 in the Netherlands since the global pandemic started, though the true number is higher because not all people who died after a suspected new coronavirus infection were tested.
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