Influenza vaccination coverage among high-risk groups has dropped in the European Region over the last seven years, and half the countries report a decrease in the number of vaccine doses available. These are the results of the first comprehensive overview of seasonal influenza vaccine coverage in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2008/09 and 2014/15, conducted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe jeopardizes the capacity to protect people during annual epidemics and the next pandemic, the two organizations warn.
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… (WHO Europe, February 7, 2018).