European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) Celebrates 10th European Immunisation Week and Calls for Equity in Immunisation Levels
Each year, the WHO-Europe coordinates the European Immunization Week to
encourage countries across the region to “Prevent – Protect – Immunize” their population against infectious diseases. The European Immunization Week (EIW) 2015 will take place from 20-25 April, marking the tenth anniversary of this initiative. The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) and the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) actively support the vision of a European Region free of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunization across the life course has been sadly missing from the European health promotion and prevention agenda, despite the great successes of the past eliminating many infectious diseases. In 2002, for example, the WHO European Region was certified as polio-free. According to the World Health Organization, immunisations save more than three million lives annually. A further three million deaths of both children and adults could be prevented by vaccination. “Over the years, the EIWH has been watching with alarm how coverage rates of and trust in vaccination have been steadily declining in some countries, placing them below the vaccination targets recommended by the World Health Organization,” stated Peggy Maguire, Director General of the EIWH.
The success of immunization programmes has led to a decreased concern of vaccine-preventable disease by many people in Europe. However, hesitancy of many to vaccinate their young children has resulted in preventable, costly outbreaks of communicable diseases such as measles and pertussis. From 2007 to 2013, the WHO European region witnessed a 348% increase in measles cases. Infectious diseases are not only a danger to children, but can be a serious health threat to all people, particularly to those who can contract the infections in later age. In addition, certain groups who cannot be vaccinated benefit from protection of infectious diseases by a phenomenon called “herd immunity,” protection from the immunization of those around them.
Positive messages and advocacy about the benefit of immunisation must be improved in the WHO European Region. Health authorities should not only communicate at a time of crisis, but must also capitalise on vital opportunities to build trust and understanding of vaccination in the general public—prior to an outbreak. Pro active public health messages are needed to combat rampant misinformation and scientifically unfounded anti vaccination alarm. The European Institute of Women’s Health and the CoMO call on policy makers to devote particular attention to targeting
vulnerable and underserved populations.
Positive messages and advocacy about the benefit of immunization must be improved in the WHO European Region. Health authorities should not only communicate at a time of crisis, but must also capitalise on vital opportunities to build trust and understanding of vaccination in the general public prior to an outbreak. Proactive public health messages are needed to combat rampant misinformation and scientifically unfounded anti-vaccination alarm. The European Institute of
Women’s Health and the CoMO call on policy makers to devote particular attention to targeting vulnerable and underserved populations.
“The good news to be celebrated during European Immunization Week is the introduction into the UK of vaccination against Meningitis B, which will be offered free to babies by the National Health Service” said Daphne Holt, Vice President of CoMO “This is a hugely important step and paves the way for other countries to think about introducing vaccination against this devastating disease.”
“European Immunization Week is a wake up call for health professionals and the public health community. Unless there is positive advocacy for immunization, together with the political will to support robust, coherent and evidence-based communication and public dialogue, trust in vaccination will not be restored. Society should be able to count on a vaccine- and health-literate public in case there is an emergency or epidemic,” argued Hildrun Sundseth, President of the EIWH.
European Institute of Women’s Health,
33 Pearse Street,
Dublin 2 ,
Tel: + 353-1-671 5691
Director General: Peggy Maguire
President of the EIWH: Hildrun Sundseth
Members of the Board: B. Dowling • M. Cusack • S. Hewson • R. Iredale • I. Klinge •M. Rovira • K. Ritchie
The European Institute of Women’s Health supports European Immunization Week and encourages its members to participate in the plethora of activities occurring throughout the week. The EIWH will celebrate the occasion with a series of informational Tweets throughout the week. The Institute will also disseminate informational material, reissuing its policy briefing, “Women and Vaccination in the EU” to promote universal vaccination and reduce inequities in immunization throughout Europe. The EIWH encourages Member States to utilise the updated ECDC EU Vaccine Scheduler and welcomes the much-needed inclusion of measles and rubella data in the ECDC
For more information , please check:
The European Institute of Women’s Health Policy Briefing,“Women and Vaccination in the EU”. ... more
European Immunization Week website
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
ECDC Surveillance Atlas website