Joint statement on the Council Conclusions on vaccination as one of the most effective tools for preventing disease and improving public health

On 9 December 2022, EU health ministers adopted Council Conclusions on “Vaccination as one of the most effective tools for preventing disease and improving public health”, one of the Czech Presidency’s key priorities under their Presidency programme. The members of the Steering Group on Influenza Vaccination welcome this important initiative which highlights the urgent need to combat vaccination hesitancy and to strengthen EU cooperation in the area of vaccination for the future. 

On vaccine hesitancy, the text highlights that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and vaccine hesitancy depends on context, country and vaccines concerned. Vaccination hesitancy and the rapid spread of misinformation can have a very negative impact on vaccine uptake and is a serious threat to healthcare systems, which is why we welcome the calls for a new Expert Forum on Vaccine Hesitancy and tailored recommendations to Member States to be issued on how to tackle vaccine hesitancy.  

Regarding strengthening EU cooperation, the text stresses that although vaccination policy is the responsibility of the Member States, a more coordinated EU approach would be beneficial to prevent and limit the spread of epidemics and vaccine-preventable diseases.  The Steering Group on Influenza Vaccination welcomes the focus on the need to build on best practices and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and calls on Member States to promote adult and childhood vaccination campaigns, improve vaccination coverage among healthcare professionals, and promote health education and health literacy. 

The Steering Group on Influenza Vaccination congratulates the Czech Presidency on the important work done raising the importance of vaccination on the political agenda and calls on the Commission to take the Council’s asks into account in its work on EU vaccination policy, including increasing awareness on the benefit of adult immunisation and on the importance of influenza vaccination. This milestone is an encouraging step towards realising the full value of vaccination in the EU, and we hope that the Swedish and Spanish Presidencies will continue and carry this initiative forward.