“JOINED FOR VACCINATION”: ADDRESSING VACCINE HESITANCY AND INCREASING UPTAKE IN EU A MULTI-STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVE
The meeting was held the 28 January 2020 inside the European Parliament (room ASP 3H1, from 16:00 to 18:00) and hosted by MEP Brando Benifei (S&D Group)
Vaccination is one of the most important public health tools of the 20th century that led to several crucial milestones. Indeed, it has led to eradication of small pox, elimination of poliomyelitis from Europe and dramatic decrease of mortality and morbidity of communicable diseases preventable by vaccination. It is estimated that worldwide vaccination prevents 2.7 million cases of measles, 2 million cases of neonatal tetanus, and 1 million cases of pertussis each year. In Europe, seasonal influenza vaccination prevents around 2 million cases each year.
However, vaccination programs are facing considerable challenges, such as a decline in vaccination coverage in some countries, measles outbreaks, and shortages in supply. In addition, misconceptions about vaccination can further shift the public focus from the individual and collective benefits of vaccination to distrust and vaccination hesitancy. A study presented at this year's EU-JAV Annual Meeting shed light on public behavior about vaccination on social media. However, there are not only challenges; there are also many best practices and opportunities, such as a new legislation in the Italian Region of Tuscany, which allows the General Practitioner to administer vaccinations but also new actors such as VAC4EU.
In the autumn of 2019, hundreds of thousands of Europeans visited their general practitioner to get “the flu shot” in order to protect themselves from one of the most common epidemics; influenza. It is no coincidence that during these months, when public awareness around vaccination is especially high, we took advantage of the momentum by joining our forces in different events around vaccination. Many events, meetings and awareness programs have been launched. These events were held at all levels; these include the Global Summit on Vaccination held by WHO, the 2nd meeting of the Coalition for Vaccination held in Brussels, the European Health Forum Gastein, as well other initiatives at national level. Last but not least, the above mentioned European Joint Action on Vaccination already held its annual meeting in October. In all of these initiatives, ACN has participated with the objective of promoting better citizen engagement in the context of life-course immunization approach.
How many of these initiatives have reached civil society and a more general audience? Have these events been successful in involving citizens organization in these efforts, and how well has the hard work and progress been communicated to them? Have stakeholders at all levels been engaged in these initiatives?
A stakeholder event like this can contribute to creating new synergies all-year-long. Being a civil society organization and having represented patient rights for 40 years, we are sure that initiatives which are led by civil society can have benefits in terms of not only reaching a more general audience, but also enhancing the synergies between patients and experts.
It is fundamental to involve civil society actors in the discussions. The fight for vaccination can only be effective if the message reaches citizens. We need to ask ourselves how to better integrate civil society in the vaccination-related initiatives in order to make sure that the hard work and progress reaches a more general audience.
Goals of the initiative
- The conference aimed to sensitize the new EU Institutions on the topic and to ensure that the newly elected Members of the European Parliament carry forward the commitment on the topic for this new term, as confirmed by the MEPs Interest Group “EU Patients’ Rights & Cross- Border Healthcare” that decided to realize its first initiative addressing vaccination.
- To make sure that the initiatives undertaken by the EU Joint Action on Vaccination are better disseminated and to facilitate the EU-JAV effort. This event is an opportunity for EU-JAV to spread information about the work which has been done by EU-JAV to a wider audience, both institutions and other stakeholders including citizens and patients' organizations/advocacy groups, etc.
- to contribute to share best practices among all stakeholders involved in the field of citizens engagement on vaccination.
- As a civil society organization, it is fundamental to involve civil society actors in the discussions. The fight for vaccination can only be effective if the message reaches citizens. We need to ask ourselves how to better integrate civil society in the vaccination-related initiatives in order to make sure that the hard work and progress reaches a more general audience.
Characteristics of the event
- Hosted by: MEP Brando Benifei, Member of Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
- Date/When: 28th January 2020
- Location: European Parliament, Brussels
- Promoted by: Active Citizenship Network
- Duration: 2 hours
- Attendants: 50 people among leaders of Brussels-based EU umbrella organizations/networks; MEPs and their assistants; European Commission members; a selection of leaders of national organizations; Active Citizenship Network constituency (civic & patient organizations, partner in EU projects, consultants, etc.), relevant stakeholders (professionals, healthcare providers, companies, representatives of public and private sectors), media & PR agencies.
- Discussants: max 8 panelists
- The topic of the event is linked to a specific patients’ right of the European Charter3: 1°); the Right to preventive Measures. 2°); the Right of Access, 10°); Right to Innovation.
- The meeting has been realized in the framework of the MEPs Interest Group “European Patients' Rights and Cross- border Healthcare”
- In the conference room there were the roll-ups of the Interest Group, the European Charter of Patients’ Rights and Active Citizenship Network.
- A unique template has been used for all the communication materials (posters, invitation, programs, etc.).
- Funding: Active Citizenship Network will cover the cost with its resources.
The Engagement of Cittadinanzattiva – Active Citizenship Network on Vaccination
Vaccination is a right and an extraordinary tool of public health, which must be valued and spread in the interests of individuals and of the community. However, it is necessary to work and contribute to a proper vaccine culture. In addition, it is necessary to ensure rigor and transparency, in order to recover confidence in science.
For years Cittadinanzattiva has provided – in Italy - assistance to people harmed by vaccinations (not vaccines). It is crucial to ensure the correct pre-vaccination history, informed consent, vaccine supervision and transparency for everybody, with periodic reports and adequate support for patients who report potential adverse effects.
As a member of the Technical Advisory Group committed to increase vaccine coverage, led by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Cittadinanzattiva is very dedicated on the topic, both at the national level and at the EU level through its EU branch Active Citizenship Network.
On December 14th 2018 Active Citizenship Network and INSERM, the coordinator of the EU-JAV, signed a MoU which recognized ACN as official stakeholder and collaborating partner to the EU-JAV. In particular, ACN is interested in the activities linked with the Work Packages N°2 (Dissemination of the Project), N°4 (Integration in National Policies and Sustainability) and N°8 (Vaccine hesitancy and uptake. From research and practices to implementation). In 2018 ACN has invited EU-JAV to an EU initiative and reciprocally has been invited to the Annual Meeting of the European Joint Action on Vaccination 2nd to the 3rd of October 2019, at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, Italy.
For more information about Active Citizenship Network engagement on vaccination, please visit our website.
- Eurobarometer - Europeans’ attitudes towards vaccination
- Vaccination glossary
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
- State of Vaccine Confidence in the EU (updated report, with new statistics for Sweden): report 2018 – summary factsheet
- The organization and delivery of vaccination services: full report – 28 country fiches