European Immunization Week: April 23-29, 2023 “We now have the opportunity to make up for the vaccinations lost during the pandemic”

SfEE Press Release

Athens, April 20, 2023 – In the framework of the European Immunization Week (23-29 April 2023) the European Network countries of the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) have the opportunity to communicate both to the public opinion and the Health Authorities the value of the vaccination programs.

Acknowledging that for a long series of years vaccination constitutes an investment in population protection and health systems sustainability, this year’s information campaign stresses the importance of timely and equitable access of the general population to all vaccination programs available. According to W.H.O., it is estimated that each year 4-5 million deaths are spared globally, thanks to vaccinations, while another 1,5 million additional deaths might be avoided once the vaccination coverage is enhanced worldwide.

Especially today, where global community has resumed its normal pace after the recent public health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the latter having undeniably proven the value of vaccination – the goals of the European Immunization Agenda 2030 must raise awareness and mobilize the whole State. In particular, the increase of vaccination coverage in all age groups, coupled with public awareness campaigns and special registries for the recording and monitoring of vaccinations, must have top priority in the public health agenda of the national health authorities and activate the work of the medical community.

The Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE) acknowledges the value of vaccination and stresses the importance of making up for the shots missed due to the pandemic. According to the official WHO and UNICEF data it was estimated that, until 2021, 25 million infants missed the shots of life-saving vaccines against diphtheria-tetanus-whooping cough (DTP3), measles, polyomelitis and meningitis, because of COVID-19. Quite an important deficit was also recorded in adolescents’ vaccination – USA data show a 24% drop in 2020 in relation to 2019. Taking also into consideration the adults’ vaccination in the USA, it was estimated that from January 2020 till July 2021, 37.1 million shots of recommended vaccines were missed in comparison to 2019.

In addition, the vaccination against COVID-19 should be pursued, especially in vulnerable groups, since it is thanks to the vaccination that almost half a million lives have been spared amongst persons above the age of 60, in 33 countries in the European region of WHO.

In order for our country to establish vaccination as the main pillar of its public health policy, the proper observance of the vaccination programs and the timely access of the general population to them constitutes a common goal. The vaccination of children, adolescents and adults constitutes an investment in health and contributes to a healthy life.

SFEE, being a responsible social partner, continues assisting prevention and supports the value of cooperation of all involved parties in the broad implementation and observance of the vaccination programs. The SFEE member-companies aim at a seamless supply of the market on a yearly basis, through the timely disposal of sufficient quantity of vaccines for the coverage of the population health needs and its protection at large, against a plethora of infectious diseases.

Acknowledging that more than 100 vaccines are currently in the pipeline, of which 46% concern diseases that are not covered by any vaccines so far, while 80% of them regard adults’ vaccination, the President of SFEE, Mr. Olympios Papadimitriou, pointed out: “Vaccination constitutes one of the major achievements of the 20th century. Thanks to the invention of vaccines and the big scale implementation of vaccination programs, a series of lethal infectious diseases were eradicated, and an important reduction of the infectious diseases load was attained. Vaccines, in parallel, combined with other public health measures, brought about the creation of a strong protection shield against the COVID-19 pandemic and the management of more infectious mutations, allowing citizens to live a healthy life. Nevertheless, we should now jointly send the message, in a single voice, that vaccination cannot wait, and the regular observance of the National Vaccination Programs should constitute a priority and duty of all competent bodies. To this end, public awareness information campaigns should be organized, the implementation of monitoring and vaccination coverage recording mechanisms – that have already been legally established – should be pursued, the introduction of vaccination goals according to the international strategies and guidelines should be adopted, and the development of a long-term national vaccination policy for the country coupled with sufficient public funding should  be implemented, so as for vaccines to continue being an accessible choice for the country’s population.”

 Saxena K, Marden JR, Carias C, Bhatti A, Patterson-Lomba O, Gomez-Lievano A, Yao L, Chen YT. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent vaccinations: projected time to reverse deficits in routine adolescent vaccination in the United States. Curr Med Res Opin. 2021 Dec;37(12):2077-2087. doi: 10.1080/03007995.2021.1981842. Epub 2021 Oct 4. PMID: 34538163

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