24-30 April 2017: This week is the European Immunisation Week (EIW2017) that is being celebrated across the European Region. Under the slogan “Vaccines work” the EIW 2017 will focus on the need for and benefits of immunisation at every stage in life.
It is well acknowledged that childhood vaccination is one of the most important medical achievements of the 20th Century. The WHO estimates that vaccination prevents 2-3 million deaths every year across the Globe, and has enormous positive impacts on healthcare systems. However, vaccine-preventable diseases also have significant impacts on adult mortality, health and quality of life. By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to reach 2 billion, an increase from 900 million today. Increased longevity and lower birth rates are dramatically changing demography in Europe and around the world. With the ageing population, the public health impact of vaccine preventable diseases and their complications in adults are likely to grow.
Over the last few decades there has been a shift in the burden of diseases that were traditionally those of childhood towards older age groups, as explained in the ECDC presentation on “Finding the balance in life-course vaccination” given at the European Health Forum Gastein 2016.
In addition, ageing is associated with a higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases but also with more frequent and severe infections such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but also with more frequent and severe infections such as influenza, pneumococcal disease, pertussis and shingles. These diseases may increase the severity of underlying pre-existing chronic diseases and lead to functional decline, loss of autonomy, disability or death and for which comprehensive preventive approaches are key.
Vaccines Europe welcomes this yearly WHO Europe initiative, and encourages you to share our immunisation related messages.