Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe may jeopardise capacity to protect people in next pandemic

The WHO and ECDC have expressed concern about the drop in coverage of influenza vaccination among high-risk groups in Europe.

  • Fewer than one third of older people are vaccinated in half the countries surveyed
  • WHO and partners estimate that over 44 000 people die annually of respiratory diseases associated with seasonal influenza in the WHO European Region, out of a total of up to 650 000 global deaths.
  • According to annual surveys funded by ECDC and WHO, although 34 000 (over 75%) of these deaths in Europe are among people aged 65 years or above, vaccine uptake remains low in this group.
  • Half the countries in the WHO European Region are vaccinating fewer than one in three older people

The organisations argue that to address vaccination gaps effectively, it is necessary to understand the multiple barriers to vaccination, including:

  • rights, regulations and accessibility, availability and convenience of vaccination services
  • social and cultural norms, values and support
  • individual motivation, values, attitudes, knowledge and skills.