How can the EU encourage increased take-up of vaccinations?
In light of the recent anti-vaccination campaigns on social media, health experts in Europe have expressed concerns over the risks of individuals opting out of vaccination programmes.
Health campaigners from the group “Vaccines Europe”, which is made of up industry experts, say they want the Commission to focus more on encouraging vaccination in order to bring rates back up to previous levels.
They claim that anti-vaccination messages are the biggest cause of the return of diseases like measles in Europe. In particular, Poland, Lithuania, and Slovakia have seen a large increase in cases in the last few years.
However, according to a survey, 48% of Europeans believe the campaign groups saying that vaccines can often cause serious side effects.
And although 88% said that they still believe vaccination is important in terms of protecting them self and others, a majority believe that there is a strong link to serious reactions – a statement that hasn’t been proven by scientists.
In addition, over a third of respondents said they believe that vaccines can cause the disease they should be protecting against. Most health groups agree that this is incorrect, although some vaccines can cause mild symptoms that are similar to the virus itself.
Campaigns against measles vaccination have led to an increase in the number of new cases. Figures from the WHO say that last year, 72 people died in the European region due to measles, and there were around 12,000 cases in total.
Last year, the Commission warned that greater cooperation was needed on vaccine-preventable diseases across Europe. It also pointed out the need for a joint approach between member states in dealing with the problem.
But, with the results of the survey showing the challenge health groups face in promoting higher vaccination levels, it’s possible that measles and other diseases could make a comeback in the coming years.