The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has just published a new Technical Report assessing vaccination coverage rates for the influenza season 2012-13 compared against the previous season 2011-2012.
The report shows that although it is common for EU Member States to have recommendations in place for targeted or at-risk groups, such as older people, pregnant women, those suffering from chronic conditions and healthcare workers, vaccination coverage rates remain stagnant or in some cases show to be declining compared to previous seasons.
For the elderly, for which the Council of the EU sets a 75% coverage to be reached by 2015, only Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands meet the target. For the other critical target groups, there is no sufficient data on coverage rates, with less than half of the EU countries having systematic and comprehensive monitoring capacity in place.
These findings corroborate previous evidence described in the Commission Staff Working Document (SWD) on the Implementation of the Council Recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination in the EU (2009). The ECDC report concludes highlighting that although policies are in place, there is a need for Member States to define and implement appropriate action plans to help achieving the pre-set policy objectives. Furthermore, there is a need to strengthen methods for data collection across all key target or at risk groups in order to better assess the performance of the national influenza vaccination programme and stimulate exchange of know-how between countries.