Policy for safe provision of vaccinations

Vaccinations must be safe. Several organisations in the Netherlands are working closely together to make sure that they are. These include the Health Council Of the Netherlands and National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). 

Vaccinations against infectious diseases

Children are vaccinated against infectious diseases such as polio and measles. These vaccines are given at the age that the vaccination has the most effect. The vaccination schedule shows at what age children should have which vaccinations. 

The National Immunisation Programme

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS) is responsible for the National Immunisation Programme. It decides two important issues, namely:

  • which vaccinations central government offers;
  • who is to have the vaccinations. 

The Health Council of the Netherlands gives advice about this. Are the vaccinations safe? Does the cost outweigh the impact of the disease it is intended to prevent? The Ministry also consults with the organisations that carry out the vaccinations. These include general practitioners, the municipal health services and the child health services. 

Asking for vaccinations yourself

There are vaccinations that the National Immunisation Programme does not offer, but which you can ask for yourself, like travel vaccinations when going abroad. Health insurers will pay for some of these vaccinations. Others have to be paid for by the person who asks for them. 
It goes without saying that these vaccines are checked to see if they are safe and effective. This is done before they are allowed to be used in the Netherlands. 

Who carries out the vaccinations

Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)

RIVM runs the National Immunisation Programme. This means it buys the vaccines on behalf of central government. These vaccines must meet safety requirements and have to be extensively researched and tested. RIVM also manages the programmes for the flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination. 

Child health services

Baby and toddler clinics and other centres for child healthcare carry out the vaccinations that are part of the National Immunisation Programme. They also provide information about child health to parents. 

General practitioners

  • People aged over 60 and in medical high-risk groups can get the annual flu vaccination from their GP. Medical high-risk groups include people with lung disease or kidney disease, for example.
  • GPs also administer the pneumococcal vaccine to older people under the National Pneumococcal Immunisation Programme for Adults (NPPV). 

Advisers on the vaccination policy

The Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB)

Before a manufacturer can put a new vaccine on the market, the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) checks the vaccine to see if it is safe and effective. The MEB looks at the production process of the new vaccine, the vaccine components, as well as the effect of the new vaccine on healthy test subjects. The MEB does this together with partner organisations from other European countries. The MEB will only issue a licence if the new vaccine is shown to be safe and effective. 
Even after the MEB has authorised the new vaccine, it continues to carry out checks. 

The Health Council of the Netherlands

After the MEB has carried out its evaluation, the Health Council of the Netherlands advises the government about the new vaccine. How well does it work? Does the cost outweigh the severity of the disease it is intended to prevent? Should the government include the new vaccines in the National Immunisation Programme? 

Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre (Lareb)

The Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre (Lareb) collects and analyses reports on the side effects of medicines, including vaccines. Lareb studies the risks of using vaccines and then shares its knowledge with healthcare professionals, RIVM, the Ministry and the public. If a member of the public suspects that a vaccine has a side effect, they can report it directly to Lareb.