Vaccination is the primary instrument for prevention in public health. Thanks to vaccination programmes, life expectancy in the world is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. According to the WHO, vaccination can prevent between 2 and 3 million deaths per year worldwide.
Nowadays, several European and neighbouring countries are facing the return of some epidemics thought to be long forgotten, the resurgence of which is mainly due to a lack of vaccination coverage.
In an increasingly digitalized and introverted society, misinformation is on the rise, social media pose a new challenge when it comes to maintaining confidence in immunization. However, the use of digital tools would facilitate and improve vaccination programmes throughout Europe, using interoperability of systems, monitoring data, procurement and a real-time supply status, preventing waste, all as a way of fighting fire with fire.
Our policies and scientists must have a clear and unambiguous narrative about the need for vaccination and its coverage. The collective interest of vaccination should be more clearly highlighted. Providing reliable information to the general public and dispelling myths about vaccines and vaccination through the exchange of good practices is key to ensure effective public health.
For several years now, the sub-optimal vaccination coverage observed in Europe has led the European Commission to step up its vaccination efforts by working closely with Member States. In December 2018, the Council adopted a recommendation to strengthen EU cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases. Subsequently, it established a roadmap to ensure better cooperation between Member States. A feasibility study on the development of a common EU vaccination map was launched this year. A draft common vaccination document, which could help EU citizens to continue their vaccination in the Member States, is expected to be completed in 2022.
Europe plays an important role in the production of these vaccines. Several European countries have experienced a shortage of vaccine production and supply which has hampered the implementation of their vaccination programmes. The Commission is considering the creation of a European virtual data warehouse on vaccine needs, which could facilitate the voluntary exchange of information on available supplies. This would ensure that the necessary measures are in place in the event of a pandemic.
Vaccination policies fall within the purview of national authorities. However, the EU must ensure fair access to vaccines for all EU citizens through free distribution in order to remove major financial barriers, combat disinformation and build confidence in vaccines, facilitating a vaccination pathway from an early age. Vaccination is first and foremost about education for all of us. In this issue of The European Files, we capture the responses of our institutions and hope to encourage a public discussion faithful to the greater good.
- The benefits of digital tools for improving immunisation programmes
- To eliminate measles in Germany: The Measles Protection Act. Requirement for all children entering school or kindergarten to have both measles vaccinations
- Place vaccination at the forefront of the public space
- Dedicated supra-structural vaccination organizations: the driver of a successful vaccination schemes
- Promote vaccination, particularly the childhood immunisation programme and the HPV vaccine for both girls and boys
- European Commission roadmap on vaccination
- A cancer vaccine: how to eradicate virus-related cancers in Europe?
- Clinical Evaluation of vaccines
- Improving pan-european collaboration in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases
- Sustain vaccination programmes through a healthier vaccine ecosystem in an interconnected Europe
- Looking ahead to the next decade for immunization in Europe
- Securing a robust vaccine sector in Europe
- Harnessing the power of partnerships to develop life-saving vaccines
- Vaccination, Population Health, and European Leadership
- Raising awareness about the importance of vaccination in Europe for public health
- Is Europe Prepared for the Future of Vaccines Innovation?
- Vaccination for patients with chronic conditions
- Vaccine hesitancy: public health emergency
- Resilient immunisation systems: looking beyond high vaccination rates
- Raising awareness about the key role of health professionals – The role of physicians in vaccination
- Vaccination in Pharmacies
- Independent control contributes to ensuring vaccine quality
- Healthcare distribution: facilitating optimal access and uptake of vaccines in Europe
- AIM calls for European Action with regard to Vaccination Hesitancy
- Vaccines – The educational and preventive role
- The EU research programmes in support to vaccine Research & Innovation
- Vaccination in Europe – the crucial role of the health care provider
- Maternal vaccination: A new and highly effective policy to improve European pertussis immunisation programmes