Misinformation about vaccines has led to a decrease in rates of vaccination, and an uptick in the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. It is frightening that after years of progress, humankind has taken a step back and instead of being close to eliminating certain diseases, some countries have even had their disease elimination statuses revoked. There is a pressing need to re-establish faith in vaccination.
At the Summit, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, discussed the need for an urgent intensification of efforts to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. They addressed the 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.
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
Juncker stated that 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. Vaccination already prevents two to three million deaths a year and could prevent a further 1.5 million if global vaccination coverage improved,” he said. “Today's summit is an opportunity to address this gap.”
Dr Tedros said that, with measles resurging, we are at a critical turning point 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 immunisation 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 stated.
It is clear that misinformation about vaccination is dangerous and it is crucial that the situation is turned around, which can only be done in collaboration. “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,” said Juncker.