TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

EU falling short of flu vaccination goals

Most European Union countries are falling short of flu vaccination coverage goals in older age groups, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Thursday.

The new technical report is part of the effort to implement recommendations on seasonal influenza vaccination from the EU Council of Ministers. In December 2009, the council agreed to take action to mitigate the impact of seasonal influenza by encouraging vaccination among healthcare workers, individuals with chronic conditions and older individuals. The council set the goal to increase vaccination coverage among older age groups to 75 percent by the 2014-2015 winter season.

The report found that vaccination coverage rates for seasonal influenza in most EU countries is lower than the percentage targeted by national governments in the council recommendation.

Of the eighteen countries that provided vaccination coverage data for the older age groups for the 2011-2012 influenza season, only the Netherlands met the 75 percent threshold. The United Kingdom was second best with 74 percent vaccination coverage. The coverage rates in other EU reporting countries ranged from 1.7 percent to 64.1 percent.

Of five countries reporting vaccination coverage data for individuals with chronic conditions for the 2011-2012 influenza season, only the Netherlands was close to reaching the 75 percent target with 73.6 percent coverage. The other countries' vaccination coverage ranged from 6.4 percent to 54.4 percent.

The report found that a majority of the countries surveyed reported a good understanding of the barriers to vaccination, which included low perception of risk, fear of possible side effects from vaccination and misleading reports in the mainstream media.

The council recommendations encourage countries to foster training, education and information exchange on seasonal influenza and vaccination.