After the first care staff were vaccinated on 6 January, today a second group is the turn of vulnerable elderly people and people with disabilities. In eleven healthcare institutions, the first pricks of residents are being made today.
This week, 15,000 nursing homes and people with mental disabilities are likely to receive vaccination in institutions. In the following weeks, larger numbers follow. Settings set up puncture locations themselves.
In the initial vaccination plans, vulnerable elderly people were at the forefront, and nursing staff only followed later. The Health Council advised that elderly people should be the first to vaccinate. But the Cabinet changed its strategy: nursing home workers, disabled workers and community care went ahead.
was due, among other things, to the fact that healthcare professionals such as Ernst Kuipers and Diederik Gommers had insisted on giving priority to care personnel. But there were also practical considerations.
The first vaccine that was approved and used – that of Pfizer/Biontech – should be stored at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius. That caused problems with logistics. According to the cabinet, it was therefore easier to have healthcare workers come to a central puncture location.
Yet today, the PFIZER/Biontech vaccine is being pricked into healthcare institutions. Initially, this was not possible because the Pfizer pricks could not be transported in small quantities. The RIVM then re-investigated a way to make this work. In the end, a solution came: the large hospitals repack boxes of 975 vaccines for the nursing homes in smaller quantities.
According to Cees Hertogh, Professor of Elderly Medicine and member of the Outbreak Management Team, nursing homes are currently “very intensively” preparing for vaccinating residents. This includes setting up a vaccination team and training personnel to administer the vaccine. Furthermore, the consent of residents must be properly regulated and the risk factors must be checked per person.
Moreover, the preparation and administration of this vaccine requires more operations than preparing, for example, the flu vaccine, explains Hertogh on NPO Radio1. “The new vaccine comes in a vial and needs to be diluted. From it, the dose should be sucked up and injected into the muscle.” The flu vaccine, on the contrary, enters ready-made and needs to be injected under the skin.
Hertogh points out that it is important that the time path that is now planned is met. “Because of the British variant, the vulnerable must have been vaccinated by March. It is expected that this variant will take over and then cause an increasing number of infections.”
Tough to explain
At the institutions for disabled care, priority will be given to the most vulnerable clients in the coming period, explains Patricia Smit, Director of Specialist Care at Amarant, on NPO Radio1. The institution was “severely hit” by the coronavirus over the past, says Smit.
In the coming days, about 650 employees and clients will be pricked to stay permanently in the institution area. According to Smit, residents with mental disabilities are vulnerable because they age faster, have to deal with old age problems or other health problems such as epilepsy.
Smit is pleased that vaccination for that group is starting, but also points out that there is a lot to do. “Its hard to explain to them whats going to happen.” Experts judge whether the residents are willing enough to decide on the vaccine. Otherwise, their representatives will be engaged.
As of next Monday, Modernas recently approved coronavaccin will also be deployed. Elderly people and people with disabilities living in smaller institutions are given that vaccine by their general practitioner.