Strengthened cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases

The European Commission has published a roadmap on “strengthened cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases”

The Commission points out that there is a need for action due to:

  • recent outbreaks of measles with fatal outcomes;
  • the activity of anti-vaccines groups;
  • claims about lower vaccination status of incoming migrants and refugees all draw increased political attention on vaccination.

They argue that the following drivers contribute to low levels of vaccine coverage and preventable immunisation gaps:

  • Misconceptions about vaccination;
  • A number of countries are facing vaccine shortages; and
  • Challenges related to research and development for new and existing vaccines.

They propose a Council Recommendation to

  • strengthen cooperation and coordination between EU countries, industry and other relevant stakeholders to help increase vaccination coverage;
  • foster the alignment of vaccination schedules across the EU;
  • promote vaccine acceptance;
  • support vaccine research; and
  • strengthen vaccine supply, procurement and stock management, especially in cases of emergency.

The Commission argues that these activities will decrease the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases. It aims to:

  • ensure equal access to vaccines to the EU population reaching out to the most vulnerable;
  • establish a sustainable mechanism of cooperation at EU level for vaccine policy development and implementation in Member States;
  • align and coordinate vaccination calendars/schedules within a medium-term horizon (e.g. 5-10 years) by facilitating dialogue and cooperation between Member States;
  • effectively tackling vaccine hesitancy by addressing vaccine concerns, improving citizens trust in vaccines and support for vaccination by health professionals and health authorities for example through analysis, information exchange and training;
  • explore possible ways of improving vaccine supply and availability, also by looking at the feasibility of EU level arrangements for procurement and stock management, including through vaccine stockpiles;
  • contribute to improving crisis management and preparedness in health across Europe through activation of existing mechanisms and tools, where vaccines can be mobilised to control outbreaks in third countries;
  • ensure that research and innovation agendas and plans support the development of safe, innovative, better targeted and more effective vaccines;
  • support Member States in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG 3.3 on eliminating and combating communicable diseases.

The Commission say that their recommendation will be “structured along three areas with clear and concrete deliverables: tackling vaccine hesitancy; sustainable vaccine policies in the EU; and EU coordination, including the promotion of stakeholders’ dialogue and contribution to global health.”