Members of the European Parliament could vote before the end of the year on a new resolution in support of immunisation
French MEP Françoise Grossetête is drafting a resolution to put before the European Parliament in the autumn, a meeting of vaccine advocates has been told.
Europe’s inability to eliminate measles, and the wide variation between vaccine schedules across the 28-member bloc, have prompted several MEPs to express frustration with some government’s apparent complacency about vaccination rates.
Grossetête wants the Parliament to take up the baton from EU health ministers who agreed in late 2014 to develop vaccine programmes that take a life-long approach to immunisation. With the notable exception of Italy’s new vaccine programme (which is not yet in force), there has been little in the way of follow-up 18 months after the ministers committed to action.
While national governments are responsible for delivering and funding immunisation programmes, greater coordination is envisaged in order to tackle cross-border health threats such as infectious diseases.
The precise shape of the resolution is still to be determined. It may include references to Europe’s role as a global hub of vaccine development and production, as well as to vaccine shortages, the lack of awareness campaigns in some EU countries, and a global health perspective prompted by the need to respond to outbreaks such as Ebola and Zika.
Adult vaccination on the agenda
The resolution was outlined by one of Ms Grossetête’s advisors at a meeting on adult vaccination held in the European Parliament. The event, organised by the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO) and hosted by UK MEP Julie Girling, looked at the growing importance of immunisation across the life span.
Chris Head, President of CoMO, said the lifetime costs of a severe case of meningitis or septicaemia – in terms of long-term medical, educational and social support – can be very high. “When we talk about cost-effectiveness of vaccination we should bear in mind the cost of not vaccinating,” he said.
David Sinclair, International Longevity Centre, said there is a very strong economic evidence-base to support adult vaccination but also highlighted significant inequalities in accessing immunisation. “We know vaccine-preventable diseases have a huge impact on longevity, on our ability to live long, healthy lives,” he added.
A range of stakeholders representing health professionals, EU institutions, industry and civil society also voiced support for a life-course approach to immunisation.