Minister Hugo de Jonge says that around January 4, the first people in the Netherlands will be vaccinated against the corona virus, if all goes well. But what is the best way to vaccinate large groups of people?
We are not there yet with a corona vaccine within reach. “You also have to distribute it. This is a gigantic operation”, says Jan Fransoo, professor of logistics at Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology. “There is nothing to indicate that we are ready, because nothing has yet been announced about which strategy RIVM has chosen.”
The RIVM, which has to make a decision about the right approach, is still investigating the possibilities. Fransoo thinks this is very late. “I don’t understand the fact that RIVM is so vague about logistics. We’ve known for almost a year that these vaccines are being developed,” he says.
“The RIVM has excellent knowledge of medical matters, but such a large operation requires specific logistical knowledge. You cannot take the experience of the flu shot for three million Dutch people as an example, because this operation is many times larger, if only because the people have two need to be vaccinated once. “
‘Chasing the Facts’
The former Chief Inspector of Healthcare also expects chaos around vaccination. Herman van der Weide does not see it happening in the short term. “Unless they find another Pandora’s box, I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” he says today. In 2009 Van der Weide led the vaccination program against swine flu. The Ministry of Health is lagging behind, he says in a conversation with Investico platform for investigative journalism.
Germany has already set up mass juicing locations. The Netherlands should have started thinking months ago about who can inject and at which locations, he says. “As long as that is not known, those plans are of no use to me. So little is known, only the cry: ‘We’re going to start!’
Fransoo: “They started five months ago in Germany. To be able to put enough vaccines, you have to train extra people and call on volunteers. There is nothing to indicate that this has already happened in the Netherlands.”
The strategy now is that care workers, the elderly and the vulnerable get their turn first. But how you get the vaccines to people depends on strategic choices, Fransoo says. “You can invite people to come to a central location, where you vaccinate them. For example, in a stadium. We need dozens of large locations where all GGDs in the Netherlands vaccinate on a large scale.”
It is wise to also arrange storage at these large locations. That is also how Germany will approach it, says Fransoo. “Then you are talking about vaccinating thousands of people a day, which means that you need a lot of stock in those places. Then you go with mobile units to people in care and nursing homes who are not mobile. They also need two injections. “
‘Vaccines on the shelf’
But the government could also regulate vaccination less centrally. The GPs could be used for this. “Then every GP vaccinates a few thousand people a week. From a logistics point of view, you are talking about a completely different system that will take much longer. And as soon as the millions of vaccines are available, you want them under the people bring. “
Expert in the field of logistics Fransoo therefore prefers the central approach. “If you approach it locally, you run the risk of large stocks ending up in the wrong place. Since keeping frozen will probably play a role, you don’t want to have too many locations.”
Fransoo is also surprised that where the Netherlands has a lot of knowledge when it comes to logistics in crisis situations, “think of defense”, it seems as if this is not being used in the current crisis. “It would be a shame if vaccines were left on the shelf.”
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