Empowering citizens to protect their health: What role for vaccinations?

The most important achievements in public health occurred during the last century. Together with clean water, sanitation and the use of antibiotics, vaccines are an essential part of these achievements. 

Vaccination is accountable for decreasing the worldwide incidence of numerous deadly diseases and associated mortality. According to the European Commission, vaccination prevents 2.5 million deaths each year worldwide. 

However, an increased fear of possible adverse effects following vaccination, the lack of reliable and trustworthy information and a lower acceptance of risks associated to vaccines because they are administered to healthy persons, increase and multiply public distrust. 

The ongoing initiatives of the European Commission including the Joint Action on Vaccination and the proposal for a Council Recommendation aim at addressing current challenges related to low and declining coverage, supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy by strengthening cooperation between EU and the Member States against vaccine preventable diseases. 

Technology provides promising tools to address vaccination barriers for families, health care providers and the broader community. Data collection, for enhanced programme management, surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccination uptake, delivering information on immunisations to the public are only a few examples of digital tools helping immunisation programmes. 

EURACTIV organised this high-level stakeholder forum to discuss how European citizens could play a greater role in protecting themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Questions included: 

– How to shift citizens’ perceptions on the positive life outcomes driven by vaccination – direct and indirect benefits?

– What practices help citizens take more control of their own health?

– How to optimise public engagement on vaccination in a digital world?

– What role for different stakeholders in implementing life-course vaccination?

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