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Seasonal influenza vaccination

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Seasonal influenza vaccination



Recommendation 2009/1019/EU on influenza (flu) vaccination


It aims to encourage European Union (EU) countries to take health measures to combat seasonal influenza.



  • Influenza is contagious respiratory infection of viral origin, which occurs as an epidemic in winter months. It can cause serious complications, even death.
  • For slight seasonal influenza, the number of deaths is estimated at on average 8 in a 100,000 population. This figure can rise to 44 during more severe years.
  • In the event of influenza epidemics, hospitals and medical services may become overburdened. This leads to an increase in direct costs (resulting from the use of medical and non-medical resources) and indirect costs (due to productivity loss and absenteeism from work).

Vaccine efficacy and effectiveness

  • Seasonal influenza can be reduced through vaccination. ‘At-risk’ groups in the population must be vaccinated against influenza. Moreover, logistical aspects, such as delivery and administration of vaccines, must not be underestimated in order to provide effective vaccine coverage.
  • It is important to act at EU level in order to avoid a new strain of the influenza virus becoming a pandemic, as happened in 1918, 1957 and 1968.

National plans and strategies

  • The recommendation encourages EU countries to adopt a national plan or strategy on vaccine coverage.
  • The aim was to cover 75% of the at-risk population preferably by the winter of 2014-2015. This group was defined in the guidelines published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
  • EU countries are encouraged to submit reports to the European Commission, on a voluntary basis, on the implementation of this recommendation and specifically on the vaccination cover achieved within at-risk groups.
  • Information campaigns directed at healthcare professionals and people in the at-risk groups and their families should be carried out.
  • The Commission is invited to report to the Council regularly on the implementation of this recommendation, based on the information received from EU countries.


  • A report published in 2015 by the ECDC suggests that all EU countries may need to reconsider their approach in order to collect more comprehensive and accurate information on seasonal influenza vaccination coverage for the target population groups.
  • It urges those EU countries which do not monitor vaccination coverage among older age groups to introduce systems to carry out this monitoring, to enable public health organisations to track their progress and identify obstacles to achieving national and EU targets.
  • The report notes that more countries have been able to provide information about vaccination coverage rates for groups such as healthcare workers and pregnant women, and offers recommendations as a way forward to achieve higher vaccination rates and improved monitoring.
  • In 2015, the Commission organised a high-level hearing on the subject, stressing the increasing importance of disease prevention in healthcare spending.


For more information, see:


Council Recommendation 2009/1019/EU of 22 December 2009 on seasonal influenza vaccination (OJ L 348, 29.12.2009, pp. 71–72)

last update 30.01.2017