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Dutch authorities promptly start vaccination of health staff


The Dutch government has stated that thousands of front-line healthcare workers will be vaccinated as soon as possible to ease pressure on hospitals suffering from coronavirus-related staff shortages.

The announcement represented a sudden change in policy that prioritized vaccination of care facility workers and caregivers for other vulnerable people rather than hospital emergency care workers. The policy was also criticized because vaccination was not scheduled to begin until January 8. The Netherlands lags behind the countries that have already started.

“Some of the worries about acute care are often due to corona-related caregiver illness,” the government said in a statement. “Therefore, emergency staff will be part of the first group to be vaccinated.”

It was not clear when vaccination would begin. Ernst Kaipers, chairman of the country’s emergency care network, said it may not be possible to start before the scheduled date of January 8.

“It needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, and it takes days to distribute the vaccine, which is a batch of 1,000,” he told NPO Radio 1.

The Netherlands is in the midst of a five-week severe blockade imposed when infection rates soared nationwide. Recently, the infection rate has been declining. On Friday, 8,215 people tested positive for COVID-19.

However, health officials have warned that the recent surge has not yet reached the peak of admissions to new hospitals and intensive care units, and staff illnesses have exacerbated capacity problems.

The government said it would like to reveal the earliest possible date for starting vaccination by Monday. The first injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is likely to be given in 10 hospitals across the country, he said.


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