Council of the European Union conclusions on vaccination

ECDC comment

​The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on vaccinations as an effective tool in public health.

The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on vaccinations as an effective tool in public health at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 1 December 2014.

The Conclusions recognise that an evidence-based, cost-effective, safe and efficient immunisation system is an integral part of a well-functioning health system. They further also recognise that in recent years there have been outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, polio and pertussis although they were on the way to being eradicated or eliminated.

The need and importance of transparently-conducted post-marketing studies to evaluate the impact of new vaccine products is highlighted. The need for studies assessing the impact of vaccination programmes is also recognised together with the importance that they be conducted independently from commercial interests. Furthermore, such analysis should be revisited periodically as scientific knowledge develops. Member States and the Commission are called upon to further encourage research into new vaccines and public health considerations in order to have better vaccines and immunisation programmes.

Given the changes in the epidemiology of childhood diseases preventable by vaccination, and the observed shift towards older age groups, the importance of life-long vaccination, and not only vaccination for children, is strongly supported in the Council Conclusions.

Furthermore, Member States are invited to have catch-up campaigns to improve the control of specific diseases.

The Conclusions call upon the European Commission with ECDC and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to:

  • identify guidance and methodologies that might strengthen Member States’ immunisation programmes, and • support the evaluation of risk communication and improving vaccine uptake strategies by Member States by putting forward appropriate research methods.

In addition, the Conclusions highlight the importance of risk communication around vaccination in order for people to be able to make informed decisions. It also commends the communication toolkits developed by ECDC.

ECDC comment

ECDC welcomes the Council Conclusions and the importance they give to the area of vaccination. ECDC will continue to support the EU and its Member States in responding to the invitations for action described in these and previous Council conclusions and recommendations (see below).

In line with the Conclusions, ECDC will maintain efforts in monitoring the effectiveness and impact of vaccines; specifically looking at the impact of pertussis - invasive bacterial disease - and influenza vaccination. As directed in the Council Recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination, and at the request of the Commission, ECDC has issued a technical report to Member States monitoring seasonal influenza and influenza immunisation. More needs to be done by the Member States in order to meet the Recommendations’ goals.

ECDC will continue to develop and provide evidence-based communication tools as a resource to Member States as they continue efforts in reaching high vaccination coverage in their populations. Efforts to support the prevention and control of vaccine preventable diseases with the potential to re-emerge will continue, notably poliomyelitis. Similarly, ECDC is supporting Member States in strengthening and maintaining their public health preparedness plans. For instance, ECDC produced a series of risk assessments on the risk of polio introduction and transmission in the EU/EEA, and a guide to communications around vaccination – Let’s talk about protection.

In addition, ECDC welcomes the Conclusions’ inclusion of life-long vaccination and its importance in fully controlling vaccine-preventable diseases.