The Health Council must consider whether the age limit at which the AstraZeneca vaccine is administered can be lowered.

Outgoing Minister Hugo De Jonge (Public Health) also asks the advisory body to investigate whether the interval between the two injections of the vaccine can be shortened.

De Jonge wonders whether new research by the European medicines agency EMA gives cause to adjust the use of the vaccine.

The EMA concluded Friday after further study of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the harms for all adults.

What is striking in that advice, De Jonge writes, is that the risk of the very rare side effect of the vaccine in the age category 50 to 59 years seems almost equal to the risk in the age category 60 to 69 years.

The question is therefore whether this age limit can be lowered so that more people can be stung with AstraZeneca.

Because of the extremely rare side effect, in which vaccinees have a severe form of thrombosis in combination with a shortage of platelets after an injection, only people over 60 are currently injected with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Following the new EMA investigation, Belgium has already decided to lower the age limit for AstraZeneca.

From now on, not only people aged 56 and older will be prodded, but people aged 41 years and older.

See also: We know this about the difference between Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines

Also advice on shortening the injection interval and the second AstraZeneca injection

Before the age limit was set, sixty-miners in the Netherlands were also vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

They are currently receiving their second dose of AstraZeneca.

Although the EMA confirms that this can be continued, they cannot yet comment on the risk of the very rare side effect following administration of the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

De Jonge has therefore asked the Health Council whether this gives cause to reconsider the decision to simply administer the second dose.

The Minister also requests the Health Council to consider the possible shortening of the period between the first and the second injection.

The council is asked for "an optimal interval".

The minister says to ask that now that there is a "much improved availability" of the vaccine, which he believes a shorter interval could contribute to an acceleration in the vaccination program.