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Low coverage of seasonal influenza vaccination in the elderly in many European countries.Mereckiene, J; Cotter, S; Weber, J T; Nicoll, A; Lévy-Bruhl, D; Ferro, A; Tridente, G; Zanoni, G; Berra, P; Salmaso, S; et al. (Euro surveillance : bulletin Européen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin, 2008-10-09)
National seasonal influenza vaccination survey in Europe, 2008.Mereckiene, J; Cotter, S; Nicoll, A; Levy-Bruhl, D; Ferro, A; Tridente, G; Zanoni, G; Berra, P; Salmaso, S; O'Flanagan, D; et al. (Euro surveillance : bulletin Européen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin, 2008-10-23)A cross-sectional survey was undertaken with the European Union (EU) Member States and Norway and Iceland to describe seasonal influenza immunisation in the 2006-7 season, in particular to identify country-specific recommendations for risk groups, obtain vaccine uptake information and allow comparison with global recommendations. A standardised questionnaire was completed electronically by each country's project gatekeeper. Of the 29 countries surveyed, 28 recommended seasonal influenza vaccination for older age groups (22 for those aged > 65 years), and in one country vaccine was recommended for all age groups. All countries recommended vaccinating patients with chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases and most countries advised to immunise patients with haematologic or metabolic disorders (n=28), immunologic disorders (n=27) and renal disease (n=27), as well as residents of long-term care facilities (n=24). Most countries recommended vaccination for staff in hospitals (n=25), long-term care facilities (n=25) and outpatient clinics (n=23), and one-third had such recommendations for workers in essential (n=10), military (n=10) and veterinary services (n=10) and poultry industry (n=13). Eight countries recommended vaccine for pregnant women; and five advised to vaccinate children (with age limits ranging from 6 months to 5 years). Twenty countries measured influenza vaccine uptake among those aged > 65 years (range 1.8%-82.1%), seven reported uptake in healthcare workers (range 14%-48%) and seven assessed coverage in persons with underlying medical conditions (range 27.6%-75.2%). The data provided by this study can assist EU states to assess and compare their influenza vaccination programme performance with other countries. The information provides a comprehensive overview of policies and programmes and their outcomes and can be used to inform joint discussions on how the national policies in the EU might be standardised in the future to achieve optimal coverage. Annual surveys could be used to monitor changes in these national policies.