Vaccination – making people immune to diseases caused by viruses or bacteria – is unquestionably one of the most cost-effective public health measures available. Wide-spread vaccination has eradicated smallpox and made Europe polio-free.
All EU countries recommend vaccination against serious, sometimes life-threatening diseases. However, some vaccines remain undervalued and under-utilised.
To support EU countries in maintaining or increasing rates of vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, the EU Commission is:
- assisting with the introduction of vaccines against cervical cancer
- promoting seasonal flu vaccination for people at risk of becoming severely ill when catching flu ('risk groups'). Council recommendation adopted on 22 December 2009 urges EU countries to commit, by the winter season 2014/2015, to vaccinate 75% of the at risk groups against seasonal flu each year
- encouraging EU countries to ensure that as many children as possible receive the main childhood vaccines.
The EU Commission also helped EU countries develop a vaccination strategy against pandemic H1N1 influenza (widely known as "swine flu")