Vaccination: Time to speak out against disinformation! Statement by Vice – President Jyrki Katainen on European Immunisation Week

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Vaccination is one of the most successful public health measures to date. Not only do vaccines prevent diseases and save lives, they also reduce healthcare costs. Over the last two centuries, it has been consistently proven that vaccines work. It is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion. Unfortunately, those of us who read the news have undoubtedly seen striking headlines about the rise of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years, resulting in severe health consequences and sometimes – avoidable deaths. The World Health Organization has named vaccine disinformation as one of the top 10 public health threats this year. But, does this mean that the trust in science is eroding?

We have some good news: as shown in the first Eurobarometer on attitudes towards vaccination published today, 85 % of EU citizens believe vaccination is an effective way to prevent infectious diseases, to protect yourself and others. Herd immunity is crucial, particularly when one has a compromised immune system and cannot be vaccinated. Children who survive cancer, for example should not be put at risk because their peers are not vaccinated.

The Eurobarometer also shows that around half of EU citizens have been vaccinated in the last five years and a large majority (79%) consult and trust a healthcare professional to get information about vaccinations.

The latter data confirms the Commission's initiative, together with the Coalition of Healthcare Workers, puts us on the right path to raising awareness effectively. This was just the first deliverable of the recently adopted Council Recommendation on strengthening the cooperation against vaccine preventable disease and there is more to follow.

Yet, there are some other worrying findings: 48% Europeans believe – incorrectly – that vaccines can often produce severe side effects and 38% think vaccines can cause the diseases against which they protect.



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