Vaccination – Commission calls for stronger EU cooperation against preventable diseases

Today, the Commission is issuing a set of recommendations for how the EU can strengthen cooperation in the fight against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. This follows President Juncker’s call for action, in his 2017 State of the Union address, to increase vaccination coverage and to ensure that everyone in the EU has access to vaccines.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said:  »Vaccination is one of the most powerful and cost-effective public health measures developed in the 20th century. As a medical doctor, I find it disheartening to witness children dying because of low uptake, vaccine hesitancy, or vaccine shortages. Infectious diseases are not confined within national borders. One Member State’s immunisation weakness puts the health and security of citizens at risk across the EU. Cooperating in this area is in all of our interests. Protect our children, vaccinate!« 

Vaccination saves between 1 and 3 millions lives worldwide every year. According to the World Health Organisation, vaccines will save 25 millions more lives in the coming decade. And yet, according to the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), several EU countries are facing unprecedented outbreaks of measles and a resurgence of other vaccine-preventable diseases due to insufficient vaccination coverage, and children and adults in the EU are still dying from these diseases.

The Commission’s proposal focuses on 3 main pillars for action: tackling vaccine hesitancy and improving vaccination coverage; sustainable vaccination policies in the EU; and EU coordination and contribution to global health.

The proposal calls for 20 concrete actions by the Commission and Member States, including:

  • Developing and implementing national and/or regional vaccination plans by 2020, including a target of at least 95% vaccination coverage for measles;
  • Introducing routine checks of vaccination status and regular opportunities to vaccinate across different stages of life, for example in schools and workplaces;
  • Presenting options for a common vaccination card that can be shared electronically across borders;
  • Establishing a European vaccination information portal by 2019 to provide online objective, transparent and updated evidence on the benefits and safety of vaccines;
  • Mitigating the risks of shortages by developing a virtual repository EU data warehouse with information on vaccine stocks and needs to facilitate voluntary exchange of information on available supplies and shortages of essential vaccines;
  • Equipping all healthcare workers with the necessary training to confidently deliver vaccinations and address hesitant behaviours;
  • Convening a Coalition for Vaccination to bring together European associations of healthcare workers as well as relevant students’ associations in the field, to commit to delivering accurate information to the public, combating myths and exchanging best practice;
  • Establishing a European Information Sharing System to gather knowledge and develop guidelines for a core EU vaccination schedule by 2020 with doses and ages that EU Member States agree as being common to all countries;
  • Strengthening partnerships and collaboration on vaccination with international partners.