Things can move quickly with the image of vaccines. After the Health Council declared the AstraZeneca vaccine as unsafe for people under the age of 60, people over 60 began to worry. The possible side-effects of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines were largely discussed in the media, which led to people wanting to choose their own vaccine. In the last months, APH researcher Danielle Timmermans (professor Risk Communication and Public Health) shed her light on this issue.  

On Monday, May 31, Timmermans was allowed to comment on ‘Nieuwsuur’. On the spot she was told that Minister De Jonge was meeting the wishes of AstraZeneca refusers to get another vaccine. Timmermans thought this was a good decision. However, the people who had just received the AstraZeneca vaccine with some reluctance felt somewhat disadvantaged. 

Two days later on Wednesday, the Health Council announced that Janssen is also a second-rate vaccine, as the mRNA vaccines are preferable. “The vaccines are sufficiently effective and safe though”, says the Health Council. Does this reassure people? Is this clear risk communication? Who should determine whether the health benefits of vaccination for an individual are reasonably proportionate to its risks?

Read the article (in Dutch) in the ‘Algemeen Dagblad’ or watch the interview with Danielle Timmermans at ‘Nieuwsuur’.