Vaccination plays a vital role in protecting humans against the flu (influenza). In the European Union it is estimated that, vaccination against seasonal influenza alone, prevents up to 37,000 deaths each year.
As seasonal flu viruses evolve every year, vaccines need to be re-administered annually to ensure they remain effective. In 2014, the European 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 vaccination, urging EU countries to commit to vaccinating 75% of at risk groups against seasonal flu each year.
To ensure citizens have access to safe, effective vaccines, the Commission works with:
- European medicines agency (EMA)
- European centre for disease prevention and control (ECDC)
- Other interested parties.
When a pandemic occurs, the Commission assists EU countries in the coordination of their response, including measures related to vaccines. In 2009 for example, it assisted in the development of national vaccination strategies against pandemic H1N1 influenza (or "swine" flu).
As the development of a vaccine can only take place once the virus has been identified (which can take several months), the Commission together with the EMA, has taken measures to speed up the marketing authorisation procedure once a pandemic is declared.
It has also worked with EMA, ECDC and other relevant stakeholders to create an effective system for monitoring adverse reactions once a vaccine is in use.