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Following the licensure of two rotavirus vaccines in Europe, we aimed to assess factors, such as surveillance, disease burden and laboratory capacity, which will be relevant for making decisions about rotavirus vaccine introduction in the different countries. We conducted an email-based survey of the national public health bodies in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region in 2006 and report here the results from the 23 countries in the eastern part of the region. The survey included questions on rotavirus surveillance, laboratory capacity, burden (in children under the age of five years) and intention to introduce rotavirus vaccination. Countries were grouped into the four per-capita income categories defined by the World Bank. Fourteen of the 23 countries responded to the survey. All except one country reported that less than a quarter of their laboratories had rotavirus diagnostic capacity. Four countries had some form of specific rotavirus surveillance, but half were of very limited coverage. Ten countries did not report data on the incidence of rotavirus hospital admissions, although nine were able to report some data on rotavirus burden. Six of the responding countries said they were likely to introduce universal rotavirus vaccination. Rotavirus surveillance and laboratory capacity in the eastern part of the WHO European Region is limited but most countries had some estimate of rotavirus burden, often from special studies. The reported mortality rates were lower than those from a WHO mortality data source. Many countries in the eastern part of WHO European Region face a number of challenges before vaccine implementation, including strengthening surveillance, improving laboratory capacity and addressing financial barriers.


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