Seasonal flu viruses change every year. So vaccines need to be updated every year to ensure they work. Although safe and effective vaccines exist, not enough Europeans get vaccinated.
On 9 January 2014 the Commission issued a Commission Staff Working Document providing an interim analysis of the state of play of implementation on the progress of the Council Recommendation on seasonal flu vacccinaton.
On 22 December 2009 the European Council adopted a recommendation on seasonal flu vaccination in an attempt to get more people in at risk groups vaccinated – 75% by 2015.
When a pandemic occurs, no vaccine can be produced until the new virus causing the pandemic is identified. It takes several months before a specific pandemic vaccine becomes available.
The Commission has worked with EMA to speed up the marketing authorisation procedure once a pandemic is declared. Because authorisations are based on limited data, the Commission has also worked with EMA, ECDC and other relevant stakeholders to create an effective system for monitoring adverse reactions once a vaccine is being used.
When a pandemic occurs, the Commission also helps EU countries coordinate their response – including measures related to vaccines.
In 2009, the Commission helped EU countries develop a vaccination strategy against pandemic H1N1 influenza (widely known as "swine flu")