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21/06/2024 12:18 | Press release |Council adopts recommendation to help combat vaccine-preventable cancers

21/06/2024 12:18 | Press release |

Council adopts recommendation to help combat vaccine-preventable cancers

The Council has adopted a recommendation that aims to combat vaccine-preventable cancers in the EU by boosting the uptake of vaccinations against Human papillomaviruses (HPV) and Hepatitis B virus (HBV).

A high proportion of cancer cases are preventable. Next to tackling risk factors like alcohol, tobacco and nutrition, vaccination can play a key role in this regard. The recommendation adopted today will help member states boost cancer prevention by increasing the uptake and coverage of key vaccinations, raising awareness among target groups, and combatting mis- and disinformation.

Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health and Social Affairs

According to a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), around 40% of cancer cases are the result of environmental factors. These factors include infection from oncoviruses such as HPV and HBV.

Vaccination against HPV and HBV can considerably reduce the risk of a person developing cancers related to these viruses. However, the uptake and monitoring of HPV and HBV vaccines varies across member states, and is affected by issues such as data protection concerns and parental consent, as well as mis- and disinformation related to infections and vaccination.

The recommendation adopted today aims to support member states in increasing vaccination rates and improving monitoring of vaccination coverage. In particular, it encourages member states to:

  • increase efforts towards fully vaccinating at least 90% of girls against HPV at EU level by 2030, in line with the objective set out in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
  • aim to significantly increase the vaccination of boys against HPV over the same period, so as to reduce the risk of transmission
  • strengthen efforts to achieve the WHO’s 2030 targets for Europe of 95% HBV vaccination coverage for children and newborns and 95% screening rate for pregnant women, and improve monitoring of progress towards these targets

In order to achieve these aims, the recommendation encourages member states to:

  • ensure that vaccination against HPV and HBV is free of charge and easily accessible
  • improve communication about vaccination among parents and young people, and combat mis- and disinformation
  • integrate immunisation against vaccine-preventable cancers into their national cancer plans

Background

On 31 January 2024, the Commission published a proposal for a Council recommendation on vaccine-preventable cancers. The recommendation forms part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, an EU approach to cancer prevention, treatment and care announced in February 2021 as a key pillar of the European Health Union.

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