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In the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region, differences in uptake rates of routine childhood immunisation persist within and among countries, with rates even falling in some areas. There has been a tendency among national programmes, policymakers and the media in recent years to attribute missed vaccinations to faltering demand or refusal among parents. However, evidence shows that the reasons for suboptimal coverage are multifactorial and include the social determinants of health. At the midpoint in the implementation of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 (EVAP), national immunisation programmes should be aware that inequity may be a factor affecting their progress towards the EVAP immunisation targets. Social determinants of health, such as individual and household income and education, impact immunisation uptake as well as general health outcomes – even in high-income countries. One way to ensure optimal coverage is to make inequities in immunisation uptake visible by disaggregating immunisation coverage data and linking them with already available data sources of social determinants. This can serve as a starting point to identify and eliminate underlying structural causes of suboptimal uptake. The WHO Regional Office for Europe encourages countries to make the equitable delivery of vaccination a priority.


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