Council encourages member states to boost vaccination against seasonal influenza

The Official Journal of the European Union of December 29 publishes a Council recomendation on seasonal influeza vaccination, which calls member states to develop action plan or policies to boost vaccination against influenza among all the risk groups.

Member States are encouraged to adopt and implement national, regional or local action plans or policies, as appropriate, aimed at improving seasonal influenza vaccination coverage, with the aim of reaching, as early as possible and preferably by the 2014-2015 winter season, a vaccination coverage rate of 75 % for ‘older age groups’ and, if possible, for other risk groups.

The recommendation also suggests to measure uptake in all risk groups, and to analyse the reasons why some people do not wish to receive vaccinations. In the same legal text, the Council recommends to foster education, training, and information exchange on seasonal influenza and vaccination by organising three types of activities:

  • Information action for healthcare workers.
  • Information action for risk groups and their families regarding the risks associated with, and the prevention of, influenza.
  • Effective information action to remove obstacles to vaccination uptake.

In October, the Health Council endorsed a strategy for a coordinated EU approach to the H1N1 influenza pandemic. It addressed key issues such as vaccine availability, global cooperation and the continuity of essential services. Moreover, according to the statement of the Health Security Committee last August, which established three priority groups for vaccination, the Council decided to give priority to receive vaccines to:

  • Chronically ill persons.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Healthcare workers.

This new recommendation focuses on seasonal influenza, a very common illness that must not be forgotten because of the H1N1 virus.