According to a new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), none of the European Union (EU) member states could demonstrate that they reach the EU target of 75% influenza vaccination coverage for vulnerable groups. Only a few of the EU member states that participated in the survey came close to achieving the 75% vaccination coverage target, set by the EU to protect tens of thousands of people at risk of death and serious illness.
Influenza vaccination coverage remains low in many countries, and if there are no improvements in the vaccine uptake, significant burden on the healthcare systems can be expected also during this upcoming winter season.
Nineteen member states provided influenza vaccination coverage rates for the 2015 to 2016, 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 seasons. Detailed information was provided for specific risk groups such as:
- the elderly
- individuals with chronic medical conditions
- pregnant women
- healthcare workers
- residents of long-term care facilities
These groups are the most likely to suffer serious complications, which is why most countries prioritise them for vaccination.
More encouragingly, about half of the EU member states reported increased use of newer influenza vaccines that provide broader protection during the 2017 to 2018 season. Also, six member states reported using newer immunisation strategies which target additional age groups such as children. Whether the newer vaccines and vaccination strategies will provide better overall protection will be studied by ECDC in the coming winter seasons.
‘Seasonal influenza vaccination and antiviral use in EU/EEA Member States - Overview of vaccine recommendations for 2017-18 and vaccination coverage rates for the 2015–16 and 2016–17 influenza seasons’ is available on the ECDC website.
Source: ECDC, 18 December 2018