Advisory group urges action to tackle vaccine-preventable diseases


At its 18th meeting on 12–13 November 2018, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE) urged action to improve immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases in the WHO European Region. Among its conclusions and recommendations, ETAGE supported:

  • checking children’s immunization status at the time of primary school entry so that parents can be informed of any missed vaccination, and children have easy access to catch-up immunization as appropriate;
  • vaccination of health-care workers and increased research to better understand their attitudes towards immunization;
  • vaccination of women who are pregnant, considering having children or who have recently delivered. This includes rubella vaccination for women prior to conceiving, and, depending on local epidemiological evidence and priorities, may also include influenza and available pertussis vaccines.

ETAGE also encouraged collaboration between middle-income countries that are lagging behind in vaccination coverage, while also acknowledging the considerable challenges to strengthening and sustaining immunization services in these countries.

“These are both exciting and challenging times for improving public health through immunization. We need to find better ways to facilitate public access to vaccines and to help make sure people make the best immunization decisions for themselves and their children right across the European Region,” said Professor Adam Finn, Chair of ETAGE.

Independent advice and guidance

WHO/Europe supports countries in their efforts to reduce the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases. Independent guidance for this work is provided by ETAGE, which annually reviews progress in the European Region and makes recommendations on operational aspects of immunization policies and strategies, as well as the incorporation of new scientific developments.

The complete list of ETAGE conclusions and recommendations is included in the 18th ETAGE meeting report.