ECDC: Influenza vaccination coverage rates insufficient across EU member states

December 18, 2018

None of the European Union (EU) Member States could demonstrate that they reach the EU target of 75% influenza vaccination coverage for vulnerable groups, according to a new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Influenza vaccination coverage remains low in many countries, and leads to severe disease, hospitalisations and premature deaths. If no improvements in the vaccine uptake will be seen, significant burden on the healthcare systems can be expected also during this upcoming winter season.

Influenza vaccination coverage rates for the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons were provided by 19 Member States. Detailed information was provided for specific risk groups such as the elderly, individuals with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. These groups are the most likely to suffer serious complications, which is why most countries prioritize them for vaccination.

Only a few of the EU Member States that participated in the survey come close to achieving the 75% vaccination coverage target, which has been set by the EU to protect tens of thousands of persons at risk of death and serious illness.

"The results of this survey have shown that achieving high vaccination coverage rates for those particularly at risk of developing severe complications remains a serious public health challenge" says Pasi Penttinen, ECDC Head of Influenza Disease Programme. "The best way to prevent or minimize severe disease from influenza among vulnerable groups is timely vaccination, even though the effectiveness of the vaccine varies depending on the virus in circulation. Sufficient vaccination coverage also saves healthcare systems money in decreased consultation rates and hospitalisations."

More encouragingly, approximately half of the EU Member States reported increased use of newer influenza vaccines that provide broader protection during the 2017/18 season. These new vaccines contain four influenza strains or an adjuvant. 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.

For patients with severe influenza, or those unable to respond to vaccination due to disease or treatment affecting the immune system, the use of influenza antivirals may be life-saving. Most EU Member States have issued recommendations for the use of influenza antivirals.

The ECDC report recommends improving vaccination coverage rates through targeted communication campaigns towards vulnerable groups, as well as ensuring adequate and sustainable funding of national vaccination programmes. Countries that do not yet have a seasonal influenza vaccination action plan to achieve higher seasonal influenza vaccination coverage rates are encouraged to develop and adopt such a plan, document or policy.
-end-
NOTES TO EDITOR

The ECDC report 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 at : https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/seasonal-influenza-vaccination-antiviral-use-eu-eea-member-states

The 2009 EU Council Recommendation on seasonal influenza encourages EU/EEA Member States "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, if not already reached. Member States are also encouraged to improve vaccination coverage among healthcare workers."

Flu News Europe (Joint ECDC - WHO Europe weekly influenza update: http://flunewseurope.org/

E-learning course on influenza for healthcare workers: https://eva.ecdc.europa.eu/enrol/index.php?id=191

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Related Influenza Articles from Brightsurf:

Predicting influenza epidemics
Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have developed a unique method to predict influenza epidemics by combining several sources of data.

Common cold combats influenza
As the flu season approaches, a strained public health system may have a surprising ally -- the common cold virus.

Scent-sensing cells have a better way to fight influenza
Smell receptors that line the nose get hit by Influenza B just like other cells, but they are able to clear the infection without dying.

New antivirals for influenza and Zika
Leuven researchers have deployed synthetic amyloids to trigger protein misfolding as a strategy to combat the influenza A and Zika virus.

Assessment of deaths from COVID-19, seasonal influenza
Publicly available data were used to analyze the number of deaths from seasonal influenza deaths compared with deaths from COVID-19.

Obesity promotes virulence of influenza
Obesity promotes the virulence of the influenza virus, according to a study conducted in mice published in mBio, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Influenza: combating bacterial superinfection with the help of the microbiota
Frenc researchers and from Brazilian (Belo Horizonte), Scottish (Glasgow) and Danish (Copenhagen) laboratories have shown for the first time in mice that perturbation of the gut microbiota caused by the influenza virus favours secondary bacterial superinfection.

Chemists unveil the structure of an influenza B protein
MIT chemists have discovered the structure of an influenza B protein called BM2, a finding that could help researchers design drugs that block the protein and help prevent the virus from spreading.

How proteins help influenza A bind and slice its way to cells
Researchers have provided new insight on how two proteins help influenza A virus particles fight their way to human cells.

Eating elderberries can help minimize influenza symptoms
Conducted by Professor Fariba Deghani, Dr. Golnoosh Torabian and Dr.

Read More: Influenza News and Influenza Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.