Flu Awareness Week, 22 – 26 October 2018

22 Oct 2018 - 26 Oct 2018
World Health Organization (WHO) - Regional office for Europe

The Flu Awareness Week is marked across the WHO European Region every year in October. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination for people’s health and well-being and to increase the uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination of people with underlying risk factors.

Vaccination in young adults

The Flu Awareness Week is a communication campaign marked across the WHO European Region every year in October. The campaign is organised by the WHO/Europe and aims to increase the uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination of people in risk groups. Every April the European Immunization Week is extended, to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination for people’s health and well-being.

ECDC supports the Flu Awareness Week by providing scientific evidence on vaccination.

Why a specific campaign on influenza?

Influenza is usually mild and most people recover quickly, but some people are at high risk of serious complications, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. The elderly, pregnant women, young children and people with underlying health conditions are more likely than others to develop severe disease if they should be infected. In addition, health care workers are more exposed to different viruses on a daily basis, including the influenza virus, and should be vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients.

Influenza places a substantial burden on the health of people in Europe each year. It is estimated that 30% of the burden of communicable diseases in Europe is due to influenza. Up to 50 million people each year are estimated to have symptomatic influenza in EU/EEA countries and as a consequence between 15 000 – 70 000 are estimated to die from influenza associated causes and on a global level, 290 000-646 000 respiratory deaths are estimated to be related to influenza. In addition, the large number of mild to moderate infections result in work absences, losses to production and pressure on the health and social care services. 

Influenza is a disease with high social and economic costs, and vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease. As influenza viruses change, vaccination against influenza is needed every year to keep up with the circulating viruses. In the northern hemisphere, the seasonal influenza circulation is observed between November up to May, so October is the optimal time to receive an influenza vaccination.

Join the initiative to increase vaccination coverage by raising awareness of the importance of vaccination!

Latest news and reports


Seasonal influenza - Annual Epidemiological Report for 2017 - 2018

Surveillance report -


Infographic: Influenza in Europe, Season 2017-2018

Infographic -


Influenza ranked highest in burden of disease measured in DALYs

News -


WHO recommendations for influenza virus vaccine composition for the 2018-2019 Northern hemisphere season

News, ECDC comment -


Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe may jeopardise capacity to protect people in next pandemic

Press release -

Get informed

Influenza disease overview

Factsheet about seasonal influenza

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Risk groups for severe influenza

Some people are at high risk of serious complications as a result of influenza, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death. The risk groups includes people who are more likely than others to develop severe disease if they should be infected, such as the elderly, pregnant women, young children and people with underlying health conditions.

Influenza transmission and virus circulation in Europe

Flu News Europe: Weekly influenza updates

Weekly reports on influenza activity in Europe throughout the flu season are available as Flu News Europe reports and weekly infographic.

Influenza Virus Characterisation Reports, summary Europe

The influenza virus characterisation reports give an overview of circulating influenza viruses in Europe. They provide details on the current vaccine strains, summarise the development of the viruses since the last report, and closely follow the main developments for the ongoing influenza season.

Influenza in Europe, summary of the season 2017–18

The influenza 2017/18 surveillance season started in week 40/2017 & ended in week 20/2018. Here you find an overview of the ECDC main outputs during the season 2017/18.


Influenza vaccination coverage rates in the EU/EEA

ECDC is collecting, sharing and disseminating information on national vaccination programmes and provides guidance for improving the overall performance of the vaccination systems in EU/EEA Member States. The latest data on vaccination coverage by country in the EU/EEA of different risk- and target groups are available in the reports listed on this page.

Public health guidance: Seasonal influenza vaccination of children and pregnant women

The aim of this guidance document is to provide EU/EEA Member States and EU bodies with relevant information to make an informed decision on routine vaccination of healthy children and pregnant women with seasonal influenza vaccine. The options presented in this document are based on a systematic review of the literature and the opinions of a group of independent experts.

Meeting report: Understanding the behavioural aspects and the role of health communication in mitigating the impact of seasonal influenza

The meeting report covers health communication strategies that could be undertaken to better promote influenza prevention measures and the healthcare professionals’ role in the uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination.

Vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers and their patients in Europe

The aim of this research project is to have a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy and safety concerns among healthcare vaccine providers and their patients in Europe and to explore the link and potential influence between the two groups.

Let’s talk about hesitancy: enhancing confidence in vaccination and uptake

This guide provides practical evidence-based and peer-reviewed advice for public health programme managers and communicators involved with immunisation services. It identifies ways to enhance people’s confidence in vaccination and addresses common issues which underlie vaccination hesitancy.

Communication on immunisation – building trust

With an emphasis on the concepts of trust and transparency, this guide has been developed to assist those involved in planning and implementing health communication activities to promote immunisation.

Vaccination campaigns

E-learning course: Influenza vaccination campaigns targeting healthcare workers

This online course aims to support the EU/EEA Member States in their planning of annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns targeting healthcare workers.

Influenza communication guide: How to increase influenza vaccination uptake and promote preventive measures to limit its spread

The influenza vaccination communication guide provide advice, guidance and campaign materials to support national influenza vaccination campaigns with the purpose of increasing the influenza vaccination uptake in the EU Member States.

Read more

World Health Organization, Regional Office For Europe - Flu Awareness Campaign 2018: The 6th Flu Awareness Campaign aims to increase uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination among risk groups, such as older people, pregnant women, young children and people with underlying health conditions, all of whom are more likely to develop complications from influenza.

World Health Organization, Regional Office For Europe - Flu Awareness Campaign: WHO/Europe launched the Flu Awareness Campaign initiative in 2013 as an extension of European Immunization Week.

World Health Organization - Influenza spotlight: Influenza: are we ready?