The event organized last 28 of February by Active Citizenship Network at the European Parliament took place in a very favorable European context for vaccination: the European Commission on-going public consultation on strengthening the cooperation against vaccine preventable diseases and the motion for resolution on vaccine hesitancy in the European Parliament.

The event hosted a well-attended panel discussion that brought together MEPs, the Deputy Director General DG SANTE, the European Health Parliament, WHO Europe, leading national public health and vaccinology experts (from Ireland and Italy), NGOs and patients’ organisation.

A strong engagement by all stakeholders to tackle issue of low vaccination coverage and equity in access to vaccination was demonstrated. 

Key discussion topics included:

  • The need for strong political commitment to immunisation as priority and partnerships being pivotal in achieving high regional vaccination coverage rates
  • The need to reinforce life-course vaccination, from both a public health and economic perspective
  • The need for individual electronic immunisation records to monitor vaccination coverage rates, at national and European level
  • The recent Italian achievement introducing with thenew  Life-course immunisation calendar aligning the scientific world and healthcare practitioners and proposing the most complete immunisation programme in Europe.

Reminders on the benefits of vaccination were provided covering:

  • Childhood, adolescent and adult immunisation 
  • The role of healthcare professionals
  • Reduction of Antimicrobial resistance
  • Contribution to healthcare system sustainability

The European Commission is actively working to tackle the issue of low vaccination coverage in Europe. It recently launched a policy initiative to support Countries of the European Union in strengthening vaccination coverage, which will be presented by the end of April or beginning of May.

This initiative aims to strengthen cooperation across the EU and coordination among Member States, create EU added value and bring industry and stakeholders together to enhance vaccine policy. In particular, this initiative would i) foster alignment of vaccination schedules across the EU; ii) tackle vaccine hesitancy; iii) strengthen vaccine research and supply; and iv) generate equitable access to vaccines, reaching out to the most vulnerable.

To ensure this is in tune with the aspirations of EU citizens, the Commission has launched an Open Public Consultation on this initiative. This is a unique opportunity the European Commission is providing to all stakeholders to express their opinions and ideas in order to reach this goal.

We strongly believe that vaccination is a right and an extraordinary instrument of public health, which must be known, valued, disseminated and used well in the interest of individuals and the community. Due to their cross-border nature and the challenges to national vaccination programmes, there is need for common EU action and more coordinated approaches to limit the spread of epidemics and cross border diseases. There is clear added-value to strengthen cooperation among all relevant actors at EU level, including health authorities, vaccine industry, research and innovation, healthcare sector and others. Thanks to our event we have also remembered the decisive role of the civic society, citizens organizations and advocacy groups in this challenge.

In line with our involvement in the Technical Advisory Group of the ECDC-European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and keeping in mind the WHO Europe Vision of an “European region free of vaccine-preventable diseases, where all countries provide equitable access to high quality, safe, affordable vaccines and immunization services throughout the life course”, Active Citizenship Network confirms its commitment to increase the vaccine coverage and to promote a culture of life-course vaccination, bringing together civic society organizations and patient advocacy groups, public and private bodies.

It will organize a European training seminar opened to leaders of civic and patients associations and a public debate event in the European Parliament to foster the dialogue on the ways to implement the policy initiative launched by the Commission .

The only way to overcome the considerable challenges that vaccination programs are facing is to be more active on vaccines!

Mariano Votta, Director, Active Citizenship Network

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