Young people spend a large proportion of their childhood in education (notwithstanding school closures due to COVID-19). Schools, along with the friendships and networks of parents they support, play a vital role in shaping our health and behaviours.
Schools and kindergartens can communicate important messages about preventative health and host valuable conversations about immunisation. They can influence parental attitudes, are sometimes part of vaccination delivery, and may also be the venue for clusters of infections if too few children are vaccinated.
The 2020 EU Health Award recognises the role of educational settings in achieving and maintaining high vaccination rates in Europe. Prizes of €50,000, €30,000 and €20,000 are on offer to schools, kindergartens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for promoting vaccination in children.
Actions designed to tackle vaccination against a specific disease, provide information on vaccines and promote access to sustainable immunisation services will be considered. In addition to the cash prize, representatives from shortlisted initiatives will be invited to a meeting of the EU Health Policy Platform in Brussels.
This year’s annual EU Health Award will also rewards cities and schools for campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles. The prize, which focuses on different topics each year, previously rewarded vaccination initiatives in 2017. Programmes and projects tackling the Ebola outbreak, antimicrobial resistance, tobacco use, and obesity have also been the focus of the prize in the past.
The spotlight on vaccination reflects concern about vaccination rates in several EU countries, linked to outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases. The European Commission has set out a roadmap for addressing suboptimal vaccination and EU countries are working together through a Joint Action on Vaccination. Working with the ECDC and EMA, the Commission has launched the European Vaccination Information Portal: https://vaccination-info.eu/en.