An 81-year-old woman from Beuningen, a village near Nijmegen, received a letter from the GGD on Saturday with an invitation to be vaccinated against the corona virus. She doesn’t want to say her name. “I was happy. I immediately called for an appointment. But the first option was after April. They are full until April. And they don’t have an agenda for the period after that. ” The GGD suggested that she go to Arnhem, 25 kilometers away. The woman does not drive a car.
On Monday, an estimated 780,000 Dutch people had had their first corona vaccine. But it is unclear which target groups this concerns – GGD-GHOR, the umbrella organization of all 25 GGDs, could not say anything about it when asked.
What is certain is that ‘mobile people over 65 and over 90 living at home’ have been invited by the GGD for an injection since the end of January. But not everyone has already received that invitation – not even everyone over the age of eighty. And not everyone who has received an invitation is welcome. The 81-year-old woman from Beuningen will now call the GGD every day to ask if she can be vaccinated that day with one of the remaining vaccine leftovers, or in place of someone who canceled. She regrets that it is taking so long: “I haven’t hugged my daughters in a year.”
The mother-in-law of pharmacist Jaap Uithof is 84 years old and lives in Wezep, Gelderland. She has diabetes and high blood pressure, like many of her peers, and lives independently. On Friday she received the invitation from the GGD. She first had to answer a long questionnaire about her health online. Son Jaap: “She is not good with computers. She also had to enter her BSN number. ” He doesn’t know exactly why. Then she was on the phone at the GGD for half an hour, Saturday for another hour. Jaap Uithof was there to help. Now she can go to the injection site on 11 March and 15 April for the second injection. Uithof: “It is all very viscous.”
All the more painful are the reports about staff of healthcare institutions that are given priority in vaccination. At nine large care organizations in South Holland, the entire staff would have already been invited for a vaccination – even people who do not work with the elderly or patients. Thousands of people are involved, while only those staff working directly with Covid-19 patients and other highly vulnerable patients were intended to be prioritized. Last month, the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort was already discredited. Managers were punctured there, but midwives and physicians’ assistants were not punctured.
Also read: Managers MeanderMC vaccinated, staff angry
The oldest and most vulnerable people should be vaccinated first, according to the Health Council. If the most vulnerable people were to be safe, the idea was that the rest of society, which has less to fear from the virus, can live a little more loosely. According to virologist Jaap Goudsmit, he said last week NRC, all 4.3 million should be able to get their first shot within ninety days. So at the end of March.
But it seems that it is not that simple. On Monday, GGD-GHOR reported that many people call to get on a ‘waiting list’ for an injection. But that waiting list does not exist, one has to wait for the invitation, according to GGD-GHOR. In addition, people over 65 fall into many different regimes, as it turned out two weeks ago. One group is vaccinated in its nursing home by a geriatric specialist, the other by the GGD, and another by the general practitioner. “As if the postman delivers the mail in alphabetical order instead of by zip code”, sighed GP Geert-Jan Holten. NRC.
Read here the interview with Jaap Goudsmit
In the meantime, a number of groups managed to get priority for a vaccination, for various reasons. The nurses, doctors and paramedics in emergency care because they often work with corona patients and other frail patients. The general practitioners, nursing home employees and people in the care of the disabled, because they too often work with infected or vulnerable people. And about a hundred thousand people with morbid obesity and Down’s syndrome.
A version of this article also appeared in nrc.next of February 16, 2021