European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) are co-hosting the world’s first Global Vaccination Summit aimed at accelerating global action to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, and advocate against the spread of vaccine misinformation worldwide.

Vaccination prevents 2 to 3 million deaths a year and could prevent a further 1.5 million if global vaccination coverage improved. Today’s summit is an opportunity to address this gap. The Commission will continue to work with the EU’s Member States in their national efforts and with our partners here today. This is a global challenge we must tackle together, and now.”

According to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, It is inexcusable that in a world as developed as ours, there are still children dying of diseases that should have been eradicated long ago. Worse, we have the solution in our hands but it is not being put to full use.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said after many years of progress, they are at a critical turning point. Measles is resurging, and one in 10 children continues to miss out on essential childhood vaccines.

“We can and must get back on track. We will only do this by ensuring everyone can benefit from the power of vaccines – and if governments and partners invest in immunization as a right for all, and a social good. Now is the time to step up efforts to support vaccination as a core part of health for all.” He said

President Juncker and Dr Tedros called for an urgent intensification of efforts to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. In the past three years, seven  countries, including four in the European region, have lost their measles elimination status.

New outbreaks are the direct result of gaps in vaccination coverage, including amongst teenagers and adults who were never fully vaccinated. To tackle vaccination gaps effectively, the summit addressed the multiple barriers to vaccination, including rights, regulations and accessibility, availability, quality and convenience of vaccination services; social and cultural norms, values and support; individual motivation, attitudes, and knowledge and skills.

New models and opportunities for stepping up vaccine development are also on the Global Vaccination Summit agenda, as well as ways to ensure that immunization is a public health priority and a universal right.

The WHO has declared vaccine hesitancy, including complacency and lack of confidence and convenience, one of ten threats to global health in 2019. Vaccines are safe and effective, and are the foundation of any strong Primary Health Care system.

Worldwide, 79 per cent of people agree that vaccines are safe and 84 per cent agree that they are effective, according to the Welcome Global Monitor on how people around the world think and feel about science and major health challenges.

The State of Vaccine Confidence in the EU report shows that vaccine refusal has been increasing in many EU member states linked to low confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines worldwide. This lack of confidence contributes significantly to lower coverage rates, which are essential to ensure herd immunity and are leading to increases in disease outbreak.

In 2019, reported measles cases have reached the highest numbers seen globally since 2006. A surge in measles cases that began in 2018 has continued into 2019, with approximately 90 000 cases reported for the first half of the year in the WHO European Region alone and over 365 000 worldwide. These half-year figures already exceed each annual total since 2006.

Progress towards Universal Health Coverage and ultimately Goal three of the Sustainable Development Goals of Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages are priorities in Europe and around the world.