Council calls for combatting vaccine hesitancy and closer EU cooperation
The conclusions highlight the need to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to be better prepared for future public health crises. During the pandemic the EU has seen the development of a number of solutions and tools which can be beneficial to fight vaccination-preventable diseases. Digitalisation, with the collection and exchange of data at EU level as well as the establishment of the EU digital COVID certificate, and cooperation in procurement, purchase and distribution of vaccines at EU level have been important public health milestones.
The COVID-19 pandemic did also showcase the size and scope of the problems related to vaccine hesitancy.
The risk of dis- and misinformation
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the threats and challenges of mis- and disinformation for society. To counter the ensuing risks to human health, health systems and effective crisis management, the conclusions invite:
- the Commission to establish an expert forum on vaccine hesitancy
- the Commission to strengthen the coordination between EU policies on vaccination and on fighting disinformation
- member states and the Commission to develop training opportunities for health professionals to become more versed in techniques and tools for countering vaccine mis- and disinformation
Strengthening EU cooperation
In terms of strengthened EU cooperation the conclusions propose additional actions such as:
- exploring the added value and possibilities of overcoming the legal and technical barriers to the interoperability of (sub-)national immunisation information systems
- developing exchange of information on possible surpluses and shortages of essential vaccines. This would enable a possible resell or donation among member states
- making use of the possibility for the joint procurement of vaccines