Launching an EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination


Matthew Downham, Associate Director, Flu Manufacturing Science & Technology, AstraZeneca

On 12 March 2018, an EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination was launched in Brussels (Belgium) supported by Vaccines Europe (VE), a specialized group within the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associates (EFPIA). As the chair of the VE Working Group, as well as Associate Director at AstraZeneca/MedImmune, I am extremely proud to be a part of this significant achievement and to share the news more broadly. The aim of the EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination is to help increase seasonal influenza vaccination coverage rates in Europe and reduce the burden of disease among its citizens. This important activity is the culmination of nearly a year’s work spearheaded by a specifically convened steering group co-chaired by Ms. Françoise Grossetête, MEP (EPP / France) and Dr. Thomas Szucs, Professor and Director, European Center of Pharmaceutical Medicine at University of Basel (Switzerland) together with the many other prestigious European and global organisations.

Influenza can be a life-threatening disease and affects 5-15% of the northern hemisphere’s population each year, resulting in about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths and 3-5 million cases of severe illness.1,2,3 Influenza is particularly dangerous for vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly, persons with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and children, as they are at higher risk of developing serious complications because of influenza infection.

Influenza vaccination is a great medical achievement of the past century and is an advantageous vaccine in both cost-effective and public health measures available today.5,6,7 For almost 80 years, influenza vaccination has protected the world population from influenza pandemics and prevention policies have looked to reduce the occurrence of the seasonal influenza.6

By signing the EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination, the signatories together with my steering group supported by VE, are calling for more action to increase seasonal influenza vaccination rates in Europe to reduce the burden of this disease, and improve citizens’ health outcomes and quality of life. As a result, my steering group together with VE, will commit to achieving the objectives outlined in the Manifesto, including implementing strategies to increase influenza vaccination coverage in people at high risk, with the goal of attaining at least 75% vaccination coverage across Europe. 

To date, the Manifesto has been endorsed by the key EU and global organisations forming the steering group, including European Specialist Nurses Organisations (ESNO), World Association for Infectious Diseases and Immunological Disorders (WAidid), European Scientific Working group on Influenza (ESWI), European Forum for Primary Care, European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), World Medical Association (WMA) and the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU).

At AstraZeneca, we applaud the goals and objectives behind the EU Manifesto. We also are committed and involved in the work of preventing the global impact of influenza and place the highest priority on the overall health of patients and the public.

More details on this critical initiative can be found at  EU Manifesto on Influenza Vaccination and a formal launch event is slated for 24th April 2018 in Brussels (Belgium).


1.     Global Seasonal Influenza-associated Mortality Collaborator Network, Estimates of global seasonal influenza-associated respiratory mortality: a modelling study. December 2017. Accessed on 9 March 2018.

2.     Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet. World Health Organization. Reviewed January 2018. Accessed 16 March 2018.

3.     Data and Statistics – Influenza. World Health Organization. Accessed 16 March 2018.

4.     ECDC Guidance (2008). Priority Risk Groups for Influenza Vaccination. Accessed on 9 March 2018.

5.     EU Health Award for NGOs 2017. Accessed on 27 March 2018.

6.     Hannoun C., The evolving history of influenza viruses and influenza vaccines, Expert Review of Vaccines. 9 January 2014. Accessed on 19 March 2018.

7.     Lusignan S., Influenza vaccination: in the UK and across Europe. September 2016. Accessed on 19 March 2018.