Overview of COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment plans in the EU/EEA and the UK

Technical report
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Suggested citation: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Overview of COVID-19 vaccination strategies and
vaccine deployment plans in the EU/EEA and the UK – 2 December 2020. ECDC: Stockholm; 2020.

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This document outlines the initial developments in EU/EEA member states and the UK regarding vaccine deployment plans and national vaccination strategies for COVID-19 vaccines, including interim considerations for priority groups, evidence to be considered for the prioritisation of target groups, logistical considerations and monitoring systems for post-marketing surveillance (e.g. vaccine coverage, safety, effectiveness and acceptance).

Following publication on 2 December, additional data from France and Ireland were added on 9 December.

Executive summary

Key findings

This report provides an initial overview of the national COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment plans in the countries of the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and the United Kingdom (UK).

This overview is based on results from an ECDC survey and meeting among members of the EU/EEA National Immunisation Technical Advisory Groups (NITAG) Collaboration in October 2020 and a survey undertaken by the Health Security and Vaccination unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety with members of the EU Health Security Committee (HSC) in November 2020.

This report provides insights into the main aspects of national deployment plans currently under development in countries. The information presented will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months as countries further develop their vaccine deployment plans and more information becomes available on the different characteristics of various COVID-19 vaccines.

Initial considerations for priority groups and underlying evidence

  • All 31 EU/EEA countries and the UK responding to the ECDC survey have started evaluating available information with the goal of establishing interim recommendations for first priority groups for vaccination. As of 30 November 2020, nine countries had already published interim recommendations for priority groups (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK).
  • Countries responding to the ECDC and the HSC surveys and those that have already published recommendations have primarily prioritised elderly people (with various lower age cut-off across countries), healthcare workers and those persons with certain comorbidities. Some countries have started to prioritise further among the priority groups selected for first vaccination, as it is probable that vaccine doses will be in limited supply in the initial phase of the vaccination campaigns.
  • Prioritisation groups may also be modified as more evidence becomes available about the COVID-19 disease epidemiology and characteristics of vaccines, including information on vaccine safety and efficacy by age and target group.
  • Modelling different options for vaccine efficacy for different outcomes (including severe disease, mild disease, infection and infectivity, and death) and vaccine uptake in EU populations, as well as different scenarios for prioritisation, is an important step that will inform decisions on vaccination strategies and estimate their possible impact.

Logistical considerations

  • For the roll-out of future COVID-19 vaccines, many countries will make use of existing vaccination structures and delivery services as much as possible. Responses from the HSC survey showed that some countries were planning to train more people to carry out the vaccinations.
  • Several countries indicated that there is a need to procure additional equipment for the cold-chain requirements due to the ultra-low temperature required for some of the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Most countries reported that COVID-19 vaccines will be provided free of charge for their citizens.

Monitoring systems for vaccine coverage, safety, effectiveness, and acceptance

Electronic immunisation registries for the monitoring of individual and population-level vaccine uptake are available at the national or subnational level in 13 countries, and developments towards such national systems are ongoing in 10 further countries. Two countries have an insurance-based system that will be used for the monitoring of vaccine uptake. Documentation regarding which vaccine product has been administered and when is key to the success of vaccination programmes. Such documentation is also important for monitoring any safety signals, such as an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) that may arise for any of the vaccine products. Information in these registries could serve as the basis for immunisation cards.

Limitation of the information collected

The information collected in this report is not intended to be exhaustive. Most of the countries are currently in the development phase of their deployment plans, and the questions in the surveys were also mostly open-ended in nature, so some information may not have been captured. ECDC is planning to issue a new interim report in January.

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