Dutch health body urges booster shots for those 60 and over

International

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch health council advised the government Tuesday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to everybody 60 and older and residents of nursing homes, saying it was seeing indications that COVID-19 protection was waning among older people.

“To get ahead of an increase in serious illness, the council advises the health minister to start offering boosters now,” the council said.

The government, which was set to reimpose some COVID-19 preventive measures later Tuesday, usually follows the health council’s advice.

Other European countries already have begun giving booster shots. France started giving boosters to people over 65 two months ago.

Just under 80% of adults in the Netherlands are fully vaccinated. The government already has begun giving booster shots to people with severely compromised immune systems.

COVID-19 cases have been rising sharply for weeks in the Netherlands. The country’s public health institute reported Tuesday that infections rose 39% compared to the week earlier and hospital admissions were up 31% amid a weeks-long rise that began soon after the government ended most remaining lockdown restrictions in late September.

Infections among nursing home residents rose to the highest level since the start of February, the public health institute said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly 18,500 people in the Netherlands.

A week ago, neighboring Belgium also ratcheted up its COVID-19 restrictions amid a spike in infections.

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