Vaccination in time of pandemic, let’s not forget the essential!

With COVID-19 pandemic, we should have learned that more than ever, all vaccines play a crucial role in public health and that, vaccines are an incredibly successful and cost-effective public health tool

Continued lockdowns and social-distancing measures have had detrimental impact on the uptake of routine vaccination* across the worldand in Europe as well.  In Europe, between 3 to 8% of people postponed or cancelled their vaccination appointment due to Covid-19 pandemic. In France, we observe that 57% of postponements and cancellations of routine immunisation affected children, and 39% affected adults1. And if we just look at one vaccine, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) for instance, vaccines delivered in England dropped by 20% during the first three weeks of the lockdown2

If uptake of routine vaccinations continues to fall, we could experience new outbreaks of measles and other vaccine preventable diseases undoing decades of progress. 

While the world is enrolling one of the biggest vaccination campaigns in the history to fight against COVID-19, with governments, healthcare professionals, manufacturers working together to ensure that all populations can assess Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible, we cannot drop our guard to ensure that children, adolescents, adults and older adults remain protected against all the other vaccine preventable diseases and that sufficient resources and consideration is given to delivery and uptake of routine vaccinations.  

This is why, Vaccines Europe together with key European organizations, are launching a call to action for global, European, and national stakeholders and governments to strengthen pandemic preparedness and responsiveness by taking a life-course immunization (LCI) approach in order to expand access to vaccines, improve uptake, and ensure optimal protection of the populations at all stages of life. 

We urge governments and all global, European and national stakeholders to: 

  1. Strengthen public health systems for future mass vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines by expanding vaccination delivery channels . 
  1. Safeguard immunization budgets that cover adolescent and all appropriate adult populations to preserve the full benefits of country investments in disease prevention, and where feasible to progressively invest in life-course immunization. 
  1. Encourage catch-up campaigns for all interrupted vaccine schedules (adolescent, college, travel, adults and the elderly) not just childhood schedules. 

In the context of establishing EU’s better preparedness and response mechanisms to cross-border health crisis, vaccination and vaccines should not be forgotten again. Maintaining immunisation service delivery and ensuring that individuals of all ages remain vaccinated today will contribute to building the resilient healthcare systems of tomorrow. 

*In Europe, vaccination available through routine immunisation varies between countries, however the following vaccine-preventable infections could be prevented via life-course routine immunisation: tuberculosis, diphtheria , tetanus, polio, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza type b, rotavirus, pneumococcal infections, meningitis (Group A, B, C, W and Y), human papillomavirus, influenza, shingles.  

Find the Call to Action On Routine and Life-Course Immunization in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic here.