Influenza is a life-threatening disease responsible for up to 650,000 deaths, and 3-5 million cases of severe illness every year. It is particularly dangerous for older people, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and children, as they are at higher risk of developing serious complication.
Vaccination can help reduce the impact of flu on individuals’ health, as well as economic burden of the disease. In 2009, European health ministers committed to reaching vaccine uptake rates of 75% in at-risk groups. Almost a decade later, most EU countries are falling short of their goal.
A group of policymakers, patient organisations, health professionals and industry experts have written an EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination – an 11-point plan designed to strengthen flu prevention. The document will be launched in Brussels on 24 April 2018, during European Immunization Week. This initiative is supported by Vaccines Europe.
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The Manifesto calls on governments to step up efforts to reach the 75% target, to raise awareness of vaccination among the general public, and to promote flu vaccine uptake among healthcare professionals.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers can provide a positive example to others, fulfil their ethical obligation towards patients, and protect their own families, by leading the way on flu vaccination.
The Steering Group on Influenza Vaccination, also calls for action to dispel myths about flu vaccination and highlight the positive role played by vaccines in tackling antimicrobial resistance.
In addition to members of the Steering Group, the Manifesto has attracted the support of dozens of non-governmental organisations committed to helping Europe keep its promise to fight flu.
‘Fighting against Influenza is a constant uphill battle,’ said Professor Thomas D Szucs, Director, European Centre of Pharmaceutical Medicine, University of Basel. ‘We cannot afford to rest. This manifesto should trigger and promote further actions to arrive at the next level of preparedness.’