A coalition of European public health experts, clinicians and industry representatives has formed to promote vaccination strategies in Europe.
SAATI (Supporting Active Ageing Through Immunisation), whose partners include Pfizer, has formed to take action during 2012, the EU’s Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
The coalition aims to raise public awareness of the value of preventative vaccination in an age-based health approach, leading to a more consistent and widespread use of immunisation.
At an inaugural meeting funded by Pfizer, the SAATI partners developed a consensus statement on the barriers to effective immunisation programmes for adults in Europe. The statement called for more effective public health communication on the value of vaccines and the need for age-based national health policies.
Vaccination is effective in preventing major infectious diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, diphtheria and tetanus. The consensus statement noted that the “most crucial age” for vaccination is the fifties, before the immune system starts to decline.
SAATI’s partners include Sylvie St-Laurent, Senior Director, International Public Affairs, Pfizer PIO, as well as representatives of the International Longevity Centre (UK), the European Men’s Health Forum, the European Institute of Women's Health and a number of major hospitals and academic medical centres.
“We are taking advantage of the EU’s focus on Active Ageing to underline the need to review European policies, practices and communication around adult vaccination,” said Professor Javier Garau, Chair of SAATI.
“Unlike with infants, there are no comprehensive or consistent guidelines for adult immunisation, and we believe this is one of the major barriers to reducing preventable and sometimes fatal illnesses.”
Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre, commented: “Immunisation is not just for children, but is essential across the life course. We need to normalise immunisation as an important part of healthy ageing. Comprehensive adult vaccination strategies would significantly reduce the incidence and burden to individuals, employers and healthcare systems.”