The percentage of babies and toddlers that were vaccinated in the framework of the National Immunisation Programme remained about the same compared to last year. In children aged 9 years and older, vaccination coverage continued to decrease for most of the national childhood immunisations. These findings are from the report on ‘Vaccination Coverage of the Dutch National Immunisation Programme – 2024’. RIVM is positive about the stabilising figures, but vaccination coverage among young children still needs further consideration. The ongoing decrease among older children is concerning to RIVM. High vaccination coverage is important in order to continue protecting people against serious diseases and to prevent outbreaks of these diseases.

In the Netherlands, children receive vaccinations for 13 infectious diseases that could result in a severe course of illness. The vast majority of children take part in the National Immunisation Programme from birth. The report shows that vaccination coverage has remained about the same for most childhood immunisations given to babies and toddlers. Coverage for the MMR vaccination (mumps, measles and rubella) and for the vaccination against meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y may even have increased somewhat among babies.

Decline in vaccination coverage for meningococcal disease among teens

Conversely, there has been a drop in vaccination coverage among teenagers. This applies in particular to the vaccination against meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y, which is offered to teens at the age of 14 years. This vaccine was added to the National Immunisation Programme in 2020 in response to an outbreak of meningococcus W in the Netherlands. It is important to determine exactly what is causing the decrease in vaccination coverage among teens.

Data partly anonymised

It is no longer possible for RIVM to provide precise data on vaccination coverage for the various childhood immunisations. Since 1 January 2022, some of the data on vaccinations that is sent to RIVM has been anonymised. This is because parents and/or teens do not always give youth healthcare services permission to share vaccination data and personal details with RIVM. Anonymous vaccination data cannot be used to calculate vaccination coverage. Once the data is anonymised, it no longer includes the details needed to determine vaccination coverage – such as the birth year of the vaccinated child. This means that the recorded data on vaccination coverage is lower than the actual vaccination coverage.

The recorded data on vaccination coverage for each infectious disease is presented in the report on ‘Vaccination Coverage of the Dutch National Immunisation Programme – 2024’.

Parents positive about vaccinating

A 2023 survey by RIVM confirmed once again that most parents are positive about vaccinating. In that year, slightly fewer parents of children aged 9–14 years were positive about vaccinating than in 2022. This appears to correspond to the downward trend in vaccination coverage in this age group. Among parents of children younger than 3.5 years, no difference was observed between 2022 and 2023.

Research on improving vaccination coverage

Last year RIVM launched a new research programme: ‘SocioVax’. The initial results offer more insights into the determinants that play a role in choosing whether or not to be vaccinated. The research programme also looked at which methods could be used effectively by professionals in supporting this choice and at how to maximise vaccination accessibility. This offers a better understanding of where there may be opportunities to further improve vaccination policy in actual practice in the Netherlands.