Seasonal influenza vaccination uptake in Europe

13 February 2018

Article: 52/601

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 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The two organisations have warned that low uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination in Europe jeopardises the capacity to protect people during annual epidemics and the next pandemic.

The overview appears in a peer-reviewed scientific article published in Vaccine in January 2018, based on data from the Vaccine European New Integrated Collaboration Effort (VENICE III) and WHO surveys. As the 2017-18 influenza season peaks in western Europe, a number of countries have seen a rapid increase in severe cases and, according to EuroMOMO, the organisation for European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action, some are reporting excess mortality among the elderly.

Source: ECDC News Release, 7 February 2018

In Scotland, provisional data to week 3 suggest a positive public response by adults to increased publicity about influenza. Vaccine uptake rates this month (January) have increased and are similar or greater than 2016-17:

  • 72.5% in people aged 65 years and over, compared with 72.0% in 2016-17
  • 43.4% in under 65’s at-risk, compared with 43.5% in 2016-17
  • 46.4% in pregnant women (without other risk factors), compared with 44.8% in 2016-17
  • 60.0% in pregnant women (with other risk factors), compared with 55.5% in 2016-17
  • 55.1% in preschool children (two to under five year olds), compared with 56.3% in 2016-17
  • 71.1% in primary school children, compared with 71.7% in 2016-17

The next update of influenza vaccine uptake will be published in week 7.