The main objective of the actions proposed by the Commission is to increase vaccine uptake, including adapted and new vaccines, and ensure that all citizens are well protected.
The Vice-President for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinassaid that “the past two years have prepared the EU to face another wave of COVID-19 this fall and winter.”
Our actions now will largely determine the future of the pandemic and the level of immunity that can be built up in the population. Member States should continue to coordinate preparedness efforts across the EU, in view of the next wave and further development of vaccination programmes. Acting now will limit the strain on healthcare systems, disruptions to economies and challenges to society,” he stressed.
The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakidounotes: “The pandemic is still with us. We must act now, together, in a coordinated and sustained manner to help prevent another outbreak of severe COVID-19 cases. To do this, it is important that all Member States have robust vaccination strategies in place to prepare for autumn and winter, including the roll-out of the newly approved adapted booster vaccines. Vaccination gaps must be covered as a matter of top priority.
“It is also important that they are created resilient surveillance systems to monitor the evolution of the virus, put in place strategies to reintroduce effective public health measures if needed and strengthen the capacity of healthcare systems. To put it bluntly, we must be ready to face another challenging season.”
Main actions for vaccination against Covid-19
In particular, the Commission encourages Member States to:
- Improve uptake of the first vaccination course and the first booster dose among eligible individuals. This is of particular importance for population groups at higher risk of serious outcomes and for countries with lower vaccination rates.
- Prioritize the administration of an additional booster dose for specific population groups, especially people aged 60 years and older and other eligible people of any age who are at risk of serious disease.
- Combine vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and influenza, but also that vaccination is accompanied by regularly updated and clear communication.
- Ensure clear communication to citizens about the benefits of vaccination.
On September 1, based on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency, the Commission approved the adapted vaccines to omicron from BioNTech Pfizer and Moderna in the EU. Other measures that should be taken in view of the availability of new and adapted vaccines for COVID-19 include:
- Development of national vaccination strategies that specify which vaccines, including new and adapted vaccines, should be administered to which population groups.
- Ensuring adequate logistical capacity to administer vaccines as soon as new and adapted vaccines are delivered.
Actions other than vaccination
Surveillance of respiratory viruses such as the fluCOVID-19 and others is essential to better understand how the virus spreads and evolves.
Depending on the epidemiological situations, non-pharmacological interventions, for example the masks or o limiting the size of concentrations, to limit the spread of the virus remain a critical part of the Member States’ toolbox. It is important that all member states are ready to reintroduce public health measures based on clear limits. Any measures implemented in schools should be tailored to the educational environment and age group and kept to a minimum to avoid any disruption to education.
The Communication also underlines the importance of strong healthcare systems and capacities in all Member States. The preparedness of health systems for infectious disease outbreaks and other types of shocks needs to be improved. Further action must also be taken to support the good mental health of health workers and the general population.
Member States are also encouraged to join forces to gather up-to-date data on post-COVID-19 situations and to improve training of the health workforce so that long-term coronavirus can be better recognized, especially in primary care.
In addition, the continuous efforts to facilitate it free movement in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic they remain vital, both for people and goods. In the context of travel from third countries, the Commission intends to propose soon revision of the relevant recommendation of the Council in order to take into account the changing epidemiological situation, increased vaccination around the world and developments in entry requirements in Member States.
Finally, to end the pandemic, it remains vital to support efforts to combat COVID-19 worldwide. The EU will continue to work with international partners to ensure the rapid development, scale-up and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.