'Striking' rise in new vaccinations in the Netherlands after expansion Covid pass

'Striking' rise in new vaccinations in the Netherlands after expansion Covid pass
Illustration image. Credit: Belga

Since the Netherlands announced that it would introduce a 'Covid pass' in the hospitality sector, the number of people who were vaccinated in the country increased for the first time in weeks.

Last week, almost 150,000 people in the Netherlands received a vaccine, compared to just under 127,000 the week before, according to the weekly vaccination figures of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

"We cannot be sure of the cause [of the increase], but the timing is definitely striking," a spokesperson for the Dutch health services (GGD) told local media outlet NOS on Wednesday.

On Sunday 12 September, information suggesting that the Dutch government would implement a Covid pass system to regulate access to the hospitality sector was leaked. Two days later, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte officially confirmed the news and announced that people would need a Covid pass to enter restaurants, cafes, cinemas and theatres from 25 September.

Through the Dutch CoronaCheck app, people can show that they are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have recovered from a coronavirus infection.

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In the days following the official announcement, the municipal health services immediately saw a sharp increase in the number of vaccine appointments, report local media from all over the Netherlands.

Additionally, the increase is due to people getting vaccinated for the first time: last week, almost 68,000 people received their first dose, compared to over 44,000 the week before - a 53% increase.

A similar surge in vaccination appointments happened in France this summer, where almost a million first shots were booked the day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the ‘pass sanitaire’ (health pass) would be made mandatory to enter bars, restaurants and museums.

In January 2021, the Netherlands became one of the last countries in the European Union to start vaccinating its population against the coronavirus. Since then, roughly 12.7 million people have received their first shot.

According to the last available official Dutch figures on Tuesday 21 September, 83.5% of Dutch residents aged 12 years or older have received the first vaccination and 79.6% are fully vaccinated.

In Belgium, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is already needed to travel and attend events, but will also be required in the hospitality industry, the nightlife sector, sports and fitness centres, trade fairs and congresses, and the cultural sector from 1 October, but only in Brussels-Captial Region for now.

While government officials have repeatedly stated that they hope that the CST will boost the vaccination coverage in Brussels (where just 54% of the residents received a first shot), the region's health service said that "there is no CST effect yet in the Brussels vaccinations" since the announcement was made.

"We are not yet seeing the effects of this," said Inge Neven, the head of the Brussels health inspectorate during a press briefing on Tuesday. "Please note that I am saying ‘not yet,’ and hope that it will still come."

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