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European hospital pharmacists pledge support for EU vaccination plans

Misinformation about vaccines, spread through social media and vocal antivaccination activists, is a concern for the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists.

The European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) has pledged its support for EU plans to improve vaccination coverage and tackle ‘vaccine hesitancy’.

In December 2018, the Council of the EU adopted the European Commission’s recommendation to strengthen EU cooperation in vaccine provision. The aim was to improve coordination on vaccine procurement, support research and innovation, and strengthen EU cooperation on vaccine-preventable diseases.

As part of the recommendation, EU countries are encouraged to develop and implement national vaccination plans with initiatives to improve coverage, and to introduce routine vaccination status checks.

It states that by 2020, member states should aim to achieve a 95% vaccination coverage rate for measles and work towards closing the immunity gaps across all other age groups, with a view to eliminating measles across the EU.

Healthcare workers play “a key role”, it says, and, to support their efforts, they should be offered opportunities for continuing education and training on vaccination.

The recommendation also aims to tackle vaccine hesitancy. This is fuelled, it said, by misinformation spread through social media and vocal antivaccination activists, and the EAHP agreed it was “a concern”. To tackle this issue, evidence-based information tools and guidance will be developed to support EU countries that are responding to increased rates of vaccine hesitancy.

The recommendation also referred to vaccine shortages and drew attention to the ‘EAHP’s 2018 survey on medicines’, which identified preventative medicines, such as vaccines, as the second highest reported medicines shortage in the hospital setting.

The EAHP said it wanted all European institutions to tackle the growing problem of vaccine shortages and it suggested an investigation into the factors causing medicines shortages to produce solutions when there are preventable shortages.

“European level coordination is especially crucial in the first half of 2019 since new regulations aiming at combating counterfeit drugs and Brexit might impact the availability of medicines such as vaccines”, the EAHP said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206246

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