The chance of death in the nursing homes is again as high as in the second corona wave in November last year, for the vaccinations. Thats what professor of elderly medicine Cees Hertogh says. The most recent data shows that around 22 percent of vaccinated residents die after an infection. The decreasing effectiveness of the vaccines, especially in the elderly, is one of the causes of this.
According to the professor, the vulnerability of the nursing home residents and the properties of the delta variant also play a role. “This is not only more contagious than previous variants, but may also have a fatal outcome more often among vulnerable elderly people.”
The professor investigated the data of nearly 800 infected residents. Some 400 of them were known to have been vaccinated, in the other group that was not clear from the registration. He did this research at the request of the Outbreak Management Team, which he is part of, and the Ministry of Health.
Record number of infections
In 970 nursing homes, around 40 percent of all locations, residents have tested positive over the past four weeks. Thats the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The old record was on 9 January, at the start of the vaccination campaign. At that time, 876 nursing homes had at least one recent infection.
The symptoms in an infection are a lot milder due to the high vaccination rate. “Yet, some of the infected residents are deteriorating rapidly.”
This week, most nursing homes will start administering booster vaccines to residents. The hope is that the boosters will lower the mortality rate. “We can help reduce the number of infections and their transmission with the extra vaccination. And in the second instance, the risk of serious illness,” says Hertogh.
In Belgian nursing homes, the administration of the boosters was already started at the end of September. There is now a clear change in the number of infections.
Still, its too easy to say that we are late in the Netherlands, says the professor. “The developments are moving at lightning speed. The way we look at those boosters is tilted. Initially, it was thought that we only needed them to prevent a serious course of illness. Because vaccines will become less effective in the long term, especially in the elderly. In the meantime, we also want to use them to reduce the number of infections.”
The latest update from the European Health Institute ECDC now lists a period of six months after vaccination as an optimal time for administering the booster. This means that in the ideal situation, nursing homes should have started administering the boosters in September.
The ECDC also points out that the insights about the boosters and the effectiveness of the vaccines are changing rapidly.
Nieuwsuur made this report earlier about what is happening in a nursing home affected by corona: