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Tackling the rise of vaccines preventable diseases

For the fifth instalment of our blog series on the story behind the EFPIA manifesto, Vaccines Europe President, Pascale Mauran discusses the proposal to convene a coalition for vaccination that could bring together European associations of healthcare workers to commit to increasing vaccination coverage in Europe.

Immunisation has been shown to be one of the most effective disease prevention measure of all time, second only to water purification. It is easy to forget that vaccines protect us during infancy, childhood, adulthood but also in older age. Vaccination contributes substantially to our health as individuals, the sustainability of our healthcare systems and society at large by preventing morbidity and mortality. According to the WHO, vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths every year(i).

Vaccines have, however, became a victim of their own success(ii) as the absence of severe diseases, due to effective vaccines and vaccination programmes, is leading to a perception that citizens, and in particular children, no longer need to be protected against certain diseases through vaccination.

Tragically, we are currently witnessing an increase of vaccine-preventable diseases in Europe leading to the recurrence of diseases, such as measles. Despite the goal of eliminating measles by 2020(iii), the number of cases of measles reported in 2016 and 2017 is three times higher than in previous years. In the first half of 2018, more than 10,000 cases of measles and 31 deaths were reported in the EU/EEA(iv).

A recent study on vaccine confidence revealed Europeans have the least confidence in vaccines in comparison to other regions in the world(v). Even though the 2018 update of the Vaccine Confidence Project study shows improvements in confidence in certain EU countries, others such as Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, and Sweden have become less confident in vaccines since 2015(vi).

The EU leaders have recognised this and drafted a Proposal for a Council Recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases. After the Proposal is adopted, the EU leaders will have the opportunity to work on the implementation of its provisions in order to reverse the trend of dropping confidence in vaccines. One of the actions listed in the proposal is to convene a Coalition for Vaccination to bring together European associations of healthcare workers as well as relevant students’ associations in the field, to commit to delivering accurate information to the public, combating myths and exchanging best practice(vii).

Healthcare workers in general practices, pharmacies and hospitals (and also other healthcare and non-healthcare settings) are some of the key partners in delivering and administering vaccines in Europe. We believe that engaging with healthcare workers across all these sectors will improve their ability to effectively communicate about vaccination with their patients and contribute to the overall awareness of the importance of vaccination among the European population.

We believe that all stakeholders need to work together in order to ensure people do not fall ill or die from diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. This joint action will help vaccination to remain the cornerstone of every functional public health system in Europe.

Vaccines Europe, EFPIA

References

(i) WHO Facts on Immunisation (2018). Available at: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/immunization/en/ (Accessed: 20th October 2018).
(ii) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (2012) Communication on immunisation – Building trust. https://ecdc.europa.eu/sites/portal/files/media/en/publications/Publications/TER-Immunisation-and-trust.pdf (Accessed: 20th October 2018).
(iii) WHO Global Vaccine Action Plan (2015) http://www.who.int/immunization/global_vaccine_action_plan/GVAP_doc_2011_2020/en/ (Accessed: 21st October 2018).
(iv)European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (2018) Measles continues to circulate in the EU/EEA, with new outbreaks reported https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/measles-continues-circulate-eueea-new-outbreaks-reported
(v) Larson, H. et. al. (2016). The State of Vaccine Confidence 2016: Global Insights Through a 67-Country Survey. EBioMedicine. Vol. 12: 295-301. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5078590/pdf/main.pdf (Accessed: 20th October 2018)
(vi) Larson, H. et. al. (2018). State of Vaccine Confidence in the EU 2018. A report prepared for the European Commission. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/vaccination/docs/2018_vaccine_confidence_en.pdf (Accessed: 20th October 2018)
(vii) Council of the European Union (2018). Draft Proposal for a Council Recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases. Available at: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10851-2018-REV-2/en/pdf (Accessed: 21st October 2018)

Pascale Mauran

Pascale Mauran became President of Vaccines Europe in 2017, after representing Pfizer in the Vaccines Europe Board...
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