All EU Member States have effective immunisation programmes. Nevertheless, in recent years, we have seen a decline in vaccination coverage in some parts of the EU. In 2018, the number of measles cases recorded by the WHO in the European region exceeded 80 000, bringing vaccination to the forefront of the EU health policy agenda. Meanwhile, the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus has brought attention to those diseases that it is not yet possible to protect people from.
Two possible explanations for declining immunisation levels are vaccine hesitancy and the fading memory of severe health threats posed by vaccine preventable diseases. For example, protection against measles, made possible through vaccination, is now largely taken for granted, whilst the increased use of social media has fuelled a rise in the prominence of vaccine-related disinformation, leading to an increase in vaccine hesitancy. Diseases, vaccine hesitancy and disinformation do not stop at borders, and as people move freely, the threat posed by a potential disease outbreak is no longer a local problem, but a regional one.