Limburg hospital: injection stop or not, we are going to vaccinate young healthcare workers with AstraZeneca


Zuyderland Medical Center in Heerlen.Image Hollandse Hoogte / Chris Keulen

Minister Hugo de Jonge does not want AstraZeneca to be used by people under 60, but the hospital has indicated that it can no longer wait for the government. “We are now legally investigating what is possible,” said the spokesperson.

We now need to be vaccinated, the medical specialists, the nurses and the Board of Directors of the Limburg Zuyderland hospital jointly decided on Friday. ‘Our ICs are full of people in their thirties, forties and fifties. Due to absenteeism and exhaustion, we can no longer complete the planning. Employees are justified in asking why they should continue to provide care without adequate protection, while the vaccines are waiting in the refrigerator, ‘they write in a letter to Minister Hugo de Jonge on Friday.

Setback

Minister de Jonge had already promised the hospitals vaccines for the care workers who had not yet been addressed in the first round of injections in January. But they were not happy. More than two weeks ago, the hospitals received AstraZeneca vaccines, for a total of 40,000 employees. But just when they wanted to start injecting, the minister stated that this vaccine could no longer be used for people under the age of 60. This is because of a very rare, possible side effect: unusual blood clots, in combination with a reduced number of platelets.

De Jonge then promised that the hospitals would receive 35,000 doses of the first delivery of the vaccine from Janssen this week. But on Wednesday it was announced that the Janssen vaccines will remain in storage in Oss for the time being. Minister de Jonge wants to await the ruling of the European Medicines Agency EMA about the rare side effects also found with this vaccine.

‘Mop policy’

The risks of becoming seriously ill from corona are many times greater than with these rare side effects of the vaccines, the doctors in the hospital argue. They call the minister’s ‘mop policy’ dangerous. “A first patient is now on the IC who had previously refused a vaccination with AstraZeneca,” says hospital spokesperson Petit. A few weeks ago, the man in his early sixties had been called up by his doctor for a protective shot. ‘But because of the bad stories already circulating about the vaccine in the press, he decided not to go. We heard enormous regret in his voice when he told us this, we saw the despair in his eyes. He is now doing very badly and his illness might have been prevented. ‘

The hospital, with various locations in Limburg, has provided care for more than three thousand corona patients since the start of the pandemic. ‘Employees become ill, become exhausted and often become incapacitated for work. We meet daily to discuss how we can prevent code black. ‘

‘Decide for yourself’

And then those vaccines can no longer be left unused in the refrigerator, while staff are crying out for that protection, according to the nursing staff at the hospital. ‘Let people under 60 decide for themselves whether they want this vaccine,’ says Petit. Instead of endlessly debating, we want to discuss whether the Health Council’s advice is valid or not. ‘

“Wisely, let me not comment on this,” says the spokesperson for the Association of Hospitals. The spokesperson for Minister De Jonge was not available for comment on Friday afternoon.

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