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Seasonal influenza vaccination

Influenza is an infectious disease which, ever year, leads to many deaths and high costs within the European Union, in terms of healthcare and also in terms of economic impact. The European Commission considers that it is crucial to vaccinate ‘risk’ groups as a priority in order to limit losses.


Council Recommendation 2009/1019/EU of 22 December 2009 on seasonal influenza vaccination.


This Recommendation encourages Member States to take health measures to combat seasonal influenza.


Influenza is contagious respiratory infection of viral origin, which occurs as epidemic in winter months. It can cause serious complications, even death.

For slight seasonal influenza, the number of deaths is estimated on average 8 in 100 000 population. This figure can rise to 44 during more severe years.

In the event of influenza epidemics, hospitals and medical services may become overburdened which leads to an increase in direct costs (resulting from the use of medical and non-medical resources) and indirect costs (due to productivity loss and absenteeism from work).

Vaccine Efficacy and Effectiveness

Seasonal influenza can be reduced through vaccinations. It is necessary that ‘risk’ groups in the population be vaccinated against influenza. Moreover, logistic aspects such as delivery and administration of vaccines represent major elements not to be underestimated in order to provide effective vaccine coverage.

It is important to act at Community level in order to avoid a new strain of the influenza virus becoming a pandemic, as took place throughout the 20th century in 1918, 1957 and 1968.

National plans and strategies

The aim of this Recommendation is that Member States adopt a national plan or strategy with regard to vaccine coverage. This plan should offset the current shortcomings that have been observed at this level.

The plan aims at covering 75% of the ‘risk’ population between now and the winter of 2014-2015. This group is defined in the guidelines published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Member States are encouraged to submit reports to the Commission, on a voluntary basis, on the implementation of this Recommendation and specifically on the vaccination cover achieved within risk groups.

Information campaigns directed at healthcare professionals and persons belonging to the risk groups and their families should be carried out.

The Commission is invited to report to the Council regularly on the implementation of this Recommendation, based on the information received from Member States.


In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed vaccine coverage targets for the elderly of at least 50% in 2006 and 75 % in 2010. This Proposal suggests meeting the targets recommended by the WHO through a national plan or strategy.

Last updated: 08.06.2010
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