Vaccine hesitancy and variation of vaccination policies and schedules between European Union (EU) countries are among the key reasons behind suboptimal vaccination levels and a corresponding rise in vaccine-preventable illnesses in the region, the Global Vaccination Summit heard.
Other factors that play a role in immunisation gaps include vaccine shortages, challenges related to the research and development for new and existing vaccines, including unpredictable demand and insufficient motivation for industry to make necessary investments, and constraints linked to public financing.
The Summit heard how the surge in measles cases that began in 2018 has continued into 2019, with approximately 90,000 cases reported for the first six months of the year in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, compared to 84,462 for the whole of 2018. At the end of 2018, four European countries lost their measles elimination status.
From July 2018 to June 2019, 11 EU/EEA Member States reported 483 cases of rubella.
Seasonal flu vaccination coverage in older age groups has also decreased in the past few years in the majority of EU countries, the Summit heard.
The European Commission, in cooperation with the WHO, organised the event, which took place on 12 September and brought together around 400 key stakeholders in public health.