Safety and development of vaccines

When it comes to COVID‑19 vaccines, safety is paramount. Like all other vaccines, COVID‑19 vaccines must meet strict safety requirements. If there is any doubt about the safety of a particular vaccine, it will not be approved for use in the Netherlands. There are also strict rules regarding potential side effects. The benefits of the vaccine (the effectiveness) must outweigh the drawbacks (the side effects).

Approval of COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines must be safe, reliable and effective. This is assessed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG). Once approved, vaccines are closely monitored. A European system for monitoring vaccine safety is currently being developed.

Health Council of the Netherlands

The Health Council of the Netherlands also checks to see whether a vaccine meets all the requirements and is suitable for the target groups in question.

Rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines have been developed quickly by a range of manufacturers. There are several reasons why they have been able to do this:

  • All over the world, various manufacturers have been working to produce different COVID-19 vaccines and to share knowledge.
  • Researchers have been working on different stages of development simultaneously, rather than consecutively, to save time.
  • Independent regulatory authorities have been deploying additional staff and assessing interim research results.

Getting vaccinated if you are ill, on medication or undergoing treatment

You may have questions about getting vaccinated in certain situations. For example if you:

  • take certain medication;
  • have an allergy;
  • are seriously ill;
  • have coronavirus or get infected between the first and second doses; or
  • have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised).

For the latest information about getting vaccinated if you are ill or on medication, go the website of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

People with a weakened immune system

The vaccines also work for people with a weakened immune system, but the level of protection varies. It is important for these people to get both doses of vaccine, because they have a higher risk of getting seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.

More information about people with a weakened immune system is available on the RIVM website.

Side effects

The coronavirus vaccines have been tested on tens of thousands of people. Some people have muscle ache or a fever for a few days after being vaccinated. This is common with vaccines against other diseases, too. Side effects usually occur within 2 weeks.

It’s possible that unknown side effects might occur after vaccination against COVID-19. But the chance of this is very small. If you experience unknown side effects or you are worried, contact your family doctor. 

Reporting side effects to Lareb

Lareb is the organisation in the Netherlands that gathers, registers and investigates possible side effects. If you experience side effects, you can report them on Mijnbijwerking.nl. The Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG) assesses whether a vaccine is effective and safe. If necessary it takes measures to protect public health.

Investigation into reports of heart inflammation

There have been reports of people developing myocarditis or pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the heart sac. The EMA is investigating these reports.

More about side effects

RIVM vaccination register

A registration system records which vaccine you  have been given. For most vaccines, people require two doses of the same vaccine for optimal protection against COVID‑19. Registration is important, not just to invite people to get their second dose, but also to know how many people have already been vaccinated and whether the vaccine is safe and effective. Registration is voluntary and the register is subject to privacy regulations (in Dutch).