For the American readers among us, Janssen is the J&J vaccination. The Netherlands has one of three factories in the world producing the vaccine. The name of the Dutch company producing it is Janssen, hence why it has a different name here in Europe. The distribution of the Janssen vaccine in the Netherlands (and Europe) isn’t that high, though. Here in the Netherlands we have received about 250,000 Janssen shots compared to 10 million Pfizer shots.
A month or two ago the Dutch government decided that due to the extremely rare risk of blood clots the vaccine would not be given to anyone under the age of 60. However, more recently the government decided to allow everyone 18 and older the choice to book a Janssen vaccine appointment, from today. There are 200,000 vaccines available. There are some advantages, especially for those who want to travel over the summer. You only need one shot and you can generally get a Janssen appointment much faster than two appointments for Pfizer or Moderna. Some lucky souls were able to book a Janssen appointment from this Friday. Otherwise that age group was looking at getting their second vaccine appointment in mid-August.
The government also makes it easy to switch your appointments. Everyone was encouraged to book mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/Moderna) appointments even if there was a chance you might want Janssen instead. Provided you haven’t received your first shot yet you are allowed to call and switch your appointment to Janssen, no questions asked. It has always been easy to switch your appointments here in the Netherlands, though it gets a bit more complicated if you want two different locations or you are re-booking your second appointment when you got Moderna during your first appointment since Moderna is much rarer here.
The thing is, the government announced a few weeks ago that anyone over the age of 18 would be able to book an Janssen appointment this week but that there would only be 200,000 doses available. A few days ago they announced that you could call from today, however the phone number to call wasn’t released until this morning. The government had 3,500 workers on standby to take calls.
…you can imagine the chaos, yes?
In other words: there were 2 million call attempts within the first 2 hours. And those 2 million attempts were done by 130,000 callers. Some people tried over 100 times before getting through (which reminds me of trying to connect to AOL in the first month after the service went pay per month!). In the first 6 hours the Janssen numbers were: 3.6 million calls by 186,000 people, with 70,000 appointments made.
Most of the appointments are within the next 7 days. Utrecht (a centrally located province) is going to keep vaccinating people throughout the night at an event hall, with a DJ to keep the youth entertained while they wait.
Personally I don’t have any vacations planned in the near future, so I was perfectly happy to wait for Pfizer… Saved me a lot of stress, I think.