ReThink Health

Webinars

The Iron Curtain of Vaccination in Europe: barriers and opportunities for tackling E-W inequalities

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The “Iron Curtain of Vaccination in Europe: barriers and opportunities for tackling E-W inequalities” webinar will focus on the vaccination division in Europe and aims to gather perspectives from the region and the European authorities to find solutions to this pressing problem. The event will be coordinated and moderated by Dr. Marius Geantă, the President of the Centre for Innovation in Medicine and coordinator of Eastern European Vaccination Task Force.

The first session:

  • Martine Ingvorsen, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (SANTE), Public
    Health and Health Security Department
  • Afonso Moreira, Public Health Expert, Portuguese National Health Institute
  • Moldova State secretary from the Ministry of Health
  • Patrick Swain, Coordinator of the Coalition for Life-course immunisation
  • Laurent Louette, Director Public Affairs & Country Liaison, Vaccines Europe

The second session – Panel discussion with the representatives of the countries from EEVAX:

  • Amina Kozaric, Professor, International Burch University, Faculty of Engineering and Natural
    Sciences, Department of Genetics and Bioengineering, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Ivan Tchalakov, Professor of Sociology of Science and Technology – Department of Applied and
    Institutional Sociology, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • Viktor Dombradi, Senior lecturer, Semmelweis University Health Services Management Training
    Centre, Hungary
  • Viktor Semenov, Family Medicine Medical Doctor and Teaching assistant at the department of
    Social Medicine and Public Health, Dnipro State Medical University, Ukraine

Europe, June, 2022. This is the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the turning points of humanity that impacted every level of our ”normal lives”. It can be seen as a barrier against what we thought was normal, as well as an opportunity to ReThink our Health and Build Forward Better.

In early March 2020, WHO declared the global pandemic Covid-19 and in late December 2020, the first Covid-19 vaccine became available in the European Union. Vaccination started at the same time, with enough doses, in every Member State. It was unprecedented. One year and a half since the Covid-19 vaccination campaigns started, the East-West divide is very large. Vaccine hesitancy is higher in CEE compared to Western Member States not just for Covid-19 vaccination, but also for other vaccine types (e.g., HPV). CEE countries have experienced one of the highest mortality and fatality rates from Covid-19, an indicator of vulnerable health systems inadequately prepared to respond to the pandemic crisis (highlighted for many years in the European Semester).

We are witnessing an „iron curtain of vaccination” in Europe, rooted in a common historical background of CEE countries. Studies suggest that Covid-19 vaccination hesitancy is related to the low trust in governments and political establishment as a consequence of common cultural factors. The Berlin Wall, which has divided Europe for decades, fell in 1989. In terms of vaccination, the ”Iron Curtain” still persists, after decades in which Eastern European countries have either become EU members or are on their way to EU membership. Unfortunately, the ”iron curtain of vaccination” is not unique to Covid-19, although it came to the public’s attention as an emergency to be resolved during this pandemic. The same inequalities can be observed in other types of vaccination, with HPV vaccination being one of the most notable.

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