Vaccines: information is key
In his State of the European Union address on 13 September 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker identified equal access to vaccines as a specific priority.
Patients with chronic diseases are often at high-risk of complications from diseases for which vaccines exist. Even though specific vaccination recommendations often exist in national immunisation programmes, uptake amongst patients is low.
One of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy is lack of high-quality, evidence-based information in patient-friendly language and accessible format. EPF has therefore included in our action plan 2018, a pilot project on vaccine information.
Why is vaccination important for patients?
Infectious diseases can be difficult to manage for patients with chronic diseases because of increased risks of interactions and adverse effects of treatments on the chronic condition. Many of such infectious diseases are preventable through vaccination.
For example, patients with chronic diseases of the lungs, heart, liver or kidneys are at increased risk of pneumococcal infections; patients with diabetes are at higher risk of serious flu complications; and rates of serious illness due to influenza viruses are high among older people and patients with chronic conditions such as COPD.
In addition, patients with autoimmune conditions and organ transplants are more vulnerable to infections in general. Some patients cannot be vaccinated at all, and are thus more vulnerable to common infectious diseases. Thus they are more vulnerable to falling rates of vaccination coverage in the general population, which reduces community immunity.
What will EPF do?
EPF will produce a range of information and capacity-building resources, including a Toolkit for national patient advocacy groups, and a pilot educational workshop.
As the first step of this process, we are currently consulting with our EU wide membership regarding the current status of vaccination-specific information needs and about the concerns of patients with chronic diseases.
We will use the results of the consultation to match those needs in the materials we will produce.