Seasonal vaccination policies and coverage in the European Region

In 2003, the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA56.19 urging Member States to increase influenza vaccination coverage of all people at high risk and to attain coverage of 75% among the elderly by 2010. This ambition was reaffirmed by a European Council recommendation in 2005 calling for Member States to increase influenza vaccination in accordance with WHO guidance.

National recommendations across Europe

In line with WHO recommendations, most countries of the WHO European Region recommend seasonal influenza vaccination for:

  • the elderly
  • those with a medical risk condition
  • people living in long-term care facilities
  • health care workers and
  • (in fewer countries) pregnant women and children.

Achieved coverage

Seasonal influenza vaccination coverage among these groups varies widely within and between countries. Although the vast majority of Member States recommend vaccination of the elderly population, vaccination coverage for this group is low in many countries. The vaccination coverage target of 75% in the elderly population by 2010 was achieved only by one country (the Netherlands).  

Mechanisms to monitor vaccination coverage in target groups other than the elderly are lacking in many countries. This impedes accurate assessment of the impact, performance and cost benefits of the national influenza vaccination programmes.