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Ireland set to face pressure from Europe to increase vaccination take-up rates

A surge in the outbreak of infectious diseases is under the spotlight at the European Parliament, said Brian Hayes MEP today

“A resolution setting out ways to deal with this hesitancy to vaccinate was adopted at the European Parliament this week, and this means the Irish Government and health service may be facing some pressure to increase our vaccination take-up rates,” he explained.

According to a global survey undertaken by the Vaccine Confidence Project, the European region has the highest negative responses in terms of perception of the importance of vaccines and their safety and effectiveness, leading to the highest degree of vaccine hesitancy in the population.

“The past decade has seen a decline in the vaccination rates achieved by member states. In the period of 2008-2015, there were 215,000 cases of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs), excluding influenza, in Europe

“The decline in vaccination uptake in Europe has led to significant measles outbreaks and related deaths in several European countries. In 2017, the number of reported cases of measles around the European Union increased fourfold – that is a worrying development. In Ireland, while our take-up rate for the MMR vaccine is good, it still falls slightly short of the target level recommended by the World Health Organisation

“This week’s vote means that Ireland, and other member states will be facing renewed pressure to deal with this problem. Action points agreed on include:

·         Introducing and implementing an appropriate legislative framework to define national priorities

·         Adopting a Joint Procurement Agreement, which gives Member States and the Commission a framework to jointly procure vaccines, thereby pooling the purchasing power of Member States, ensuring that pandemic vaccines and other vaccines are available in sufficient quantities that access to vaccines is guaranteed, and that all participating Member States are treated equally

·         Strengthening the infrastructure for data collection to track infectious disease patterns and the real-life impact of vaccines to support the delivery of immunisation programmes – this would include providing vaccination screening and vaccination services for migrants and refugees entering EU countries

·         Increasing transparency in the process of evaluating vaccines and their adjuvants and funding of independent research programmes on their possible side-effects. This would contribute to restoring confidence in vaccination.

“In addition, a priority identified by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee is for healthcare workers to be sufficiently vaccinated themselves. I know that this is also a priority for the Minister for Health and the HSE and that take-up rates by Irish healthcare professionals working in acute hospitals and long-term care facilities has increased this year on last year. However, at under 40%, consideration should be given at Government level for a nationwide campaign to create awareness about the necessity and efficacy of vaccinations and to dispel myths.”

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