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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2003: Volume 7/ Issue 37 Article 2
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 37, 11 September 2003

Citation style for this article: WHO recommendation on influenza vaccination, as a SARS precautionary measure, highlights differences in policies for healthcare workers across Europe. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(37):pii=2290. Available online:

WHO recommendation on influenza vaccination, as a SARS precautionary measure, highlights differences in policies for healthcare workers across Europe

Editorial team (, Eurosurveillance editorial office

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to vaccinate promptly those who are at high risk from influenza infection, such as the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with underlying chronic disease, and to increase vaccine coverage of healthcare workers who have contact with these people (1).

WHO hopes that by reducing the number of influenza infections, and the respiratory complications, such as pneumonia, that influenza can lead to, any infections of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that may occur during the winter season will be recognised more easily and diagnosed earlier.

A recent paper (2) shows influenza vaccination recommendations in 50 countries in 2000, and the Table below shows these recommendations in the countries of the European Union (EU). When the data was collected, a few countries did not recommend vaccination of healthcare workers.

Table. Influenza vaccination recommendations and vaccine utilisation in EU countries in 2000. Source: adapted from reference 2.

Countries Age >High risk conditions * Other Other target groups Vaccine doses per 1000 population
HIV Children on long term aspirin Pregnancy Nursing home residents Healthcare workers Household contacts
Austria 60 Yes - - - Yes Yes Yes 135
Belgium 65 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 170
Denmark 65 Yes Yes - - Yes - - 115
Finland 65 Yes - Yes - - - - 101
France 65 Yes Yes Yes - Yes Yes - 177
Germany 60 Yes Yes - - Yes Yes - 186
Greece 65 Yes Yes - - - Yes Yes 124
Ireland 65 Yes Yes Yes - Yes Yes Yes 140
Italy 65 Yes Yes Yes - Yes Yes Yes 156
Netherlands 65 Yes Yes Yes - Yes - - 197
Norway 65 Yes - - - Yes Yes - 96
Portugal 65 Yes - - - - - - 132
Spain 65 Yes Yes Yes - Yes Yes Yes 178
Sweden 65 Yes - - - - - - 95
United Kingdom 65 Yes Yes - - Yes Yes - 186


* All countries recommended vaccination for people who have chronic cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes mellitus (except Norway), renal (except Denmark, Norway and Sweden) conditions, or who are immunocompromised for six months or longer.

  1. WHO Media Centre. Amid SARS concerns, WHO urges influenza vaccinations for high-risk groups. Press release, 2 September 2003. ( [accessed 11 September 2003]
  2. Van Essen GA, Palache AM, Forleo E, Fedson DS. Influenza vaccination in 2000: recommendations and vaccine use in 50 developed and rapidly developing countries. Vaccine 2003; 21: 1780-5. (access at, subscription required)

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