The European Commission is issuing a set of recommendations for how the EU can strengthen cooperation in the fight against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. This follows President Juncker’s call, in his 2017 State of the Union address, for action to increase vaccination coverage and to ensure that everyone in the EU has access to vaccines.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said: ‘‘Vaccination is one of the most powerful and cost-effective public health measures developed in the 20th century. As a medical doctor, I find it disheartening to witness children dying because of low uptake, vaccine hesitancy, or vaccine shortages. Infectious diseases are not confined within national borders. One Member State’s immunisation weakness puts the health and security of citizens at risk across the EU. Cooperating in this area is in all of our interests. Protect our children, vaccinate!”
Vaccination saves between 1 and 3 million lives worldwide every year. According to the World Health Organisation, vaccines will save 25 million more lives in the coming decade. And yet, according to ECDC, several EU countries are facing unprecedented outbreaks of measles and a resurgence of other vaccine-preventable diseases due to insufficient vaccination coverage, and children and adults in the EU are still dying from these diseases.
The Commission’s proposal focuses on 3 main pillars for action: tackling vaccine hesitancy and improving vaccination coverage; sustainable vaccination policies in the EU; and EU coordination and contribution to global health.
In an interview to EurActiv, Commissioner Andriukaitis said that “Evidence shows that we need to react immediately. All countries now understand that they don’t have any chance to act alone or isolate themselves because the cross-border movement of people is absolutely different compared to 20 years ago. The Schengen concept is a crystal clear example.” He also stressed the need to move toward digitised healthcare systems, as this will help countries meet the Commission’s recommendations on vaccination and improve IT infrastructure.
He explained that through IT tools, member states will be able to communicate better, and provide clear information to monitor the epidemiological situation and react immediately.
Europe Explained is provided by Diplomatique Expert for Corporate Dispatch.