Specific group of people with a severe immune system disorder to get third COVID-19 vaccine dose

Some people with a severe immune system disorder have not built up sufficient immunity against coronavirus after two vaccine doses. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Health Council of the Netherlands have advised that this group be given a third dose under the current COVID-19 vaccination programme.

This will benefit an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 patients aged 12 and over who are receiving specialist treatment for a severe immune system disorder. RIVM and consultants have drawn up a list of specific patient groups who are eligible for the third shot. It is expected that a third vaccine dose will give some of these patients better protection against COVID-19. From October 2021, eligible patients will receive an invitation from their attending physician. Invitations will not all be sent at the same time, but will be spread over several weeks. The third dose will be an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Patients will be able to get this extra dose at a GGD vaccination centre.

Read more about the third vaccine dose for people with impaired immunity (immunocompromised patients).

Booster shots not yet necessary for the general public

Booster shots for the general population are not necessary at this time. This also applies to older people. Booster vaccinations are only necessary to restore protection and immunity when these have diminished over time, especially among vulnerable groups, which is not yet the case. Research shows that the vaccines are still very effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. They also offer excellent protection against the Delta variant. This also applies to the elderly, who were among the first groups to be vaccinated in the Netherlands.

Vaccines still highly effective

RIVM closely monitors the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines, i.e. the degree of protection they offer against severe illness and death from COVID-19. This is still very high:

  • 95% protection against hospital admission: 92% in the 15-49 age group, 97% in the 50-69 age group and 91% in those aged 70 and older.
  • 97% protection against ICU admission: 99% in the 15-49 age group, 97% in the 50-69 age group and 95% in those aged 70 and older.

When the vaccines eventually do become less effective, the government will be ready. It has already started preparations with RIVM and the GGD for a booster vaccination campaign.

The difference between a third dose and a booster shot

For people with a severe immune system disorder, three doses of vaccine are needed to produce a good initial immune response. For most people, one or two doses are enough to achieve good initial immunity. A booster shot is necessary when this immunity decreases over time. It boosts people’s immune response and restores protection.