SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Some 4.8 million people over the age of 60 will this week receive an invitation to make an appointment for a top-up coronavirus vaccination.
The vaccination programme, which will be implemented by regional health boards, starts on October 2. The new round is aimed at people who “have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill” with coronanvirus and focuses on the over-60s.
However, people with a compromised immune system or chronic health condition, pregnant women and healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients will also be able to make an appointment, as will everyone who gets the annual flu jab.
They won’t get a letter, but will be able to make an appointment via 0800 7070 from mid October.
Others who feel they need extra protection, for example because they live with someone who is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, will also be able to get vaccinated.
Those eligible for vaccination will be given the XBB vaccine developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and tailored to meet the current dominant strain. It was approved for use by the European Medicines Agency at the end of August.
Public health body RIVM says vaccination is not necessary for everyone because “broad protection against coronavirus has built up in the population”. In addition, the current variant is milder than earlier ones, the RIVM said.
However, people who are ill should stay home to help protect the health of more vulnerable people, the agency says. It also highlights the general importance of good ventilation, hand washing and avoiding close contact with people with chronic health conditions.
Last week 41 people were admitted to hospital with coronavirus and some 200 people are currently being treated. Their number has increased steadily since the height of the summer.
A handful of people are being treated in an IC unit, after their number fell to zero in August.
The amount of virus particles in waste water has also been rising since July, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard.