At Dijkwegpad in Amsterdam Nieuw-West, at the exit from Calandhal, there is a serene peace. It’s Thursday, April 1, the morning is coming to an end, the sun is heating the sidewalks. Then Mrs. Engel (76) appears with a slightly younger girl. Engel just got her Pfizer vaccine. The vaccination center is quiet, says a friend: “There were no people in front of us, no people behind us.”
The location in Amsterdam is new, it opened in mid-March. The center has a capacity of two thousand injections a day, but that number has not yet been reached. People are allowed to choose the place themselves, and that is still little known. That will add up, the site coordinator expects. “Society must come to us.”
It is also quiet in Emmeloord. “I was expecting a whole host of people to come in, pop, pop, pop,” says Doutzen Huistra, 75, of Wapserveen. About twenty people arrive at the hour; much less than in mid-February, when people lined up outside waiting for their vaccination date. Dates have been postponed and dozens of very elderly people have been waiting on walkers in the winter cold. There is now a heated tent at the back of the hospital in Emmeloord, near the Dr. Jansen Center.
Also read: Another break for AstraZeneca
At the vaccination center in Ede, people have to wait a little longer, but it’s not packed there either. The maximum injection capacity is 1,000 people a day, but as there are not enough vaccines available yet, more than 600 injections have been distributed this Thursday, according to a GGD spokesman.
How do vaccinations work in different places in the country? What do people think of AstraZeneca’s troubled child? Do they still want that vaccine? And will people cuddle and kiss again? “Noooo, we’ll be careful.”
Music on hold
Most people could visit soon after they were invited – sometimes the same day, sometimes a week or two later. They often had to bravely keep GGD music on hold, but after a year on hold it was still possible.
Leen (74) from Amsterdam is delighted with the contact with GGD. “You talk to that lady for half an hour,” says his wife Ineke, 73. Both have just been vaccinated. “Yes, she was a dear woman,” Leen says. “Or at least she had a nice voice.” The conversation revolved around the fact that Leen had received an invitation, but Ineke had not yet. “She wondered when my wife was born, and then she was allowed to come too.”
Others took the initiative themselves. Siepa Stuurman’s wife, 74, received the number via a number they had to call, so by the time the letter finally fell on the mat, Stuurman had already scheduled an appointment.
Suzi Steiner of Zandvoort also took a proactive stance. Her mother Ljerka Steiner (74) was initially able to go to work only after five weeks – there was a lot in the whole region. Suzi Steiner was advised to call every day, which led to an injection meeting in Amsterdam. 35 minutes drive from Zandvoort, no problem. “Even if I had to drive to Limburg because of it!”
Empowerment pays off, that much is clear. Eugenie Wubben (74) from Rijsbergen has just been picked up in Breda, thanks to decisive action. “I started calling the day before yesterday and it was all full in April and May. I was very angry. I could only go far to Eindhoven or Helmond. Absurdly. Yesterday morning I thought: I will just try again. And what do you think: I could go this morning. ”
Most people who NRC spikes are over 70 years old. They got their first Pfizer bullet; the eighties had already got another. Some people don’t care who got the vaccine, others are glad it’s not AstraZeneca. This was previously negative in the news due to possible side effects, and on Friday afternoon it was announced that people under the age of 60 will not be vaccinated with it for the time being. “If I had gotten it, I would have waited. I don’t believe in that, ”says Annie Kuijpers, 78, of Tilburg. Her husband Ad (79): “I don’t know. I didn’t watch it.
But I do what my wife says. “
Karen Ebbinkhuijsen, 48, who received AstraZeneca in Ede on Thursday, suspected the vaccination report.
She managed to get it because she has a son with Down syndrome. “I was particularly suspicious this week’s news that Germany is restricting injections of AstraZeneca,” she says. “But I thought: the chance of side effects is small. I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. “On Friday afternoon, she says by phone that she was shocked by the report that 60-year-olds will no longer be vaccinated with AstraZenec in the Netherlands.” That’s just my luck. And I already doubted it. What I miss in reporting is what I should pay attention to: how can I know if I have a blood clot? And I doubt there is any more error with that vaccine. Why else would they stop injecting after just five sign-ups? “
In the meantime, Astra-Zeneca, aged 60 to 64, is being vaccinated in various places. For example, in Streefkerk, where they shoot at the Reformed Church. Those who have already been injected must wait 15 minutes to see if an allergic reaction will occur. One of them, Harm Weerbeek (63), says he doesn’t worry about any side effects. “I don’t care about that.” A little further on is Petra van Herk, 63, who would love another vaccine. But “we weren’t allowed to choose,” she says and now she’s glad she’s finally vaccinated. She’s had enough of the corona crisis. “We haven’t been on vacation three times.”
Safe to the supermarket
What changes in people now that they have the vaccine? Will they cuddle again, visit people and go on vacation? Leen and Ineke are thinking of welcoming their grandchildren again – now they only see them in the garden. Ljerka Steiner and her husband, Zandvoorters with Croatian roots, want to travel to Croatia immediately after the second shooting. “They usually sit there between April and October each year,” says daughter Suzi.
But the vast majority say they will not behave differently. They still keep their distance and wear face masks, “those are the rules,” they say. It is uncertain whether vaccines will be able to transmit the virus more, they say.
Also read: A short stoppage of the injection again reveals weaknesses in the vaccination strategy
Siep Stuurman from Amsterdam makes the decision to relax in private life depending on science. “Researchers now tend to say that after the shooting, you can no longer infect others. Until that is certain, I will remain cautious. “So keep your distance. Except on the mountain trails,” says Stuurman, still a passionate mountaineer at the age of 74: “You can’t keep a meter and a half there without one of them falling into the abyss.” manners. “Soon you will be able to do something revolutionary again when people shake hands, kiss or pat on the back.”
Not everyone knows if they will pet their (big) children again after the second injection. “Oh, I haven’t thought that much yet,” says Betty Miedema, 74, who just got her first Pfizer injection in Amsterdam.
“We haven’t thought about it yet,” says Joke Schomaker, 71, who is with his wife Harry, 74, today. “We don’t cuddle with children now. We box. “Harry, philosophizing out loud, ‘Maybe we’ll be able to kiss occasionally.’
Also for Ad and Annie Kuijpers from Tilburg, cuddling with third parties is not a problem for now. “Noooo,” Annie Kuijpers said. “We’re still careful.” Her husband: “Others feel the same. So no cuddling. “Not even with their son? Annie Kuijpers:” We do it with our elbows. ”
Vaccination may not lead to behavior change for many, but it is really important for people. Many older people feel safer, and therefore freer: visiting the supermarket is no longer a source of stress. “The feeling is changing,” says Joop Houtman, 75, of Amsterdam. “It simply came to our notice then. I know I can still carry it, but I’m less afraid I’ll get sick. ”
For many people, vaccination is therefore a solemn event. “It went well and it was fun,” says Ms. Deinum, 74, of Emmeloord before diving into her Twingo. While waiting, she talked to her fellow vaccines about the church and politics.
Gjalt Meijer (76) from Steenwijk is less positive. He tells parking attendants in Emmeloord, “She didn’t drink a cup of coffee.” “And she doesn’t understand the dialect while they’re coming from here.” They had to go home for coffee, they told him. “Well no,” Meijer says through a laugh. “I’ll continue to Urk’s fishing.”
In collaboration with Mark Middel, Denise Reter, Arjen Schreuder and Frederiek Weede
A version of this article also appeared in the NRC Handelsblad from April 3, 2021
A version of this article also appeared in the NRC on the morning of April 3, 2021