Vaccination is one of the most successful public health measures to date. Not only do vaccines prevent diseases and save lives, they also reduce healthcare costs. Over the last two centuries, it has been consistently proven that vaccines work. It is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion. Unfortunately, those of us who read the news have undoubtedly seen striking headlines about the rise of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years, resulting in severe health consequences and sometimes – avoidable deaths. The World Health Organization has named vaccine disinformation as one of the top 10 public health threats this year. But, does this mean that the trust in science is eroding?
We have some good news: as shown in the first Eurobarometer on attitudes towards vaccination published today, 85 % of EU citizens believe vaccination is an effective way to prevent infectious diseases, to protect yourself and others. Herd immunity is crucial, particularly when one has a compromised immune system and cannot be vaccinated. Children who survive cancer, for example should not be put at risk because their peers are not vaccinated.
The Eurobarometer also shows that around half of EU citizens have been vaccinated in the last five years and a large majority (79%) consult and trust a healthcare professional to get information about vaccinations.
The latter data confirms the Commission's initiative, together with the Coalition of Healthcare Workers, puts us on the right path to raising awareness effectively. This was just the first deliverable of the recently adopted Council Recommendation on strengthening the cooperation against vaccine preventable disease and there is more to follow.
Yet, there are some other worrying findings: 48% Europeans believe – incorrectly – that vaccines can often produce severe side effects and 38% think vaccines can cause the diseases against which they protect.
This means our work to increase vaccine coverage and to fight against vaccine disinformation is far from finished. We will continue to roll out all the actions included in the Council Recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases, and I am glad to announce that the Commission and WHO will be hosting a Global Vaccination Summit on 12 September 2019 in Brussels. This is a clear message of political endorsement for the benefits of vaccination, the importance of continued research for better vaccines and the need to secure equal access to vaccines for all. Last, but not least, our global solidarity and decisive action against vaccine disinformation are crucial. Let's all join forces raising awareness on one simple fact: Vaccines Work!
Read the Eurobarometer results here.