Vaccination schedules in the EU/EEA

Old man with the kids
© iStock

Each EU/EEA country is responsible for its own national public health policy, including its national immunisation programme and vaccination schedule. Information on the national vaccination schedules in EU/EEA countries can be found in the ECDC Vaccine Scheduler.

There are some differences in the way countries organise their vaccination schedules, which are similar but not identical in different EU/EEA countries. These may include the age and population to be vaccinated (for example, all children of a certain age or only those in a risk group), the exact type of vaccine (e.g. some ingredients may differ), the number and timing of doses, and whether a vaccine is given alone or in combination with others.

Factors driving such differences may include the disease's burden, prevalence of the disease and trends in different countries, the resources and structures of healthcare systems, political and cultural factors, as well as the resilience of the vaccination programme.

The differences between vaccination schedules do not mean that some are better than others. They just take into account different circumstances and health systems. The same level of protection is ensured in each EU/EEA country. Vaccines in the national schedules are given in the appropriate timeframes to ensure adequate protection.

The childhood vaccination schedules in all EU/EEA countries include the vaccination against:

  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • pertussis (whooping cough)
  • poliomyelitis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • human papillomavirus (adolescent/pre-adolescent girls).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccination against hepatitis B as part of the universal childhood vaccination schedule, but some EU/EEA countries only vaccinate children at high risk of infection and adults in key risk groups.

Children in some EU/EEA countries are offered protection through vaccination against:

  • hepatitis A
  • influenza
  • invasive disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis
  • invasive disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • rotavirus
  • tuberculosis
  • varicella

In addition, all EU/EEA countries have recommendations for seasonal influenza (flu) for older people and key risk groups.

The EU is exploring further harmonisation of national vaccination schedules. The EU Council issued Recommendations on 7 December 2018 on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases, which include examining the feasibility of a core EU vaccination schedule. ECDC is developing an assessment of this together with national public health authorities across the EU.

The aim would be to improve the compatibility of national vaccination schedules and promote equal access to vaccinations across the EU. This could potentially address issues for people moving between EU countries, such as adjusting to different vaccination schedules (including the number and timing of booster doses) or missing a vaccination.

Mandatory or recommended vaccination

Each EU/EEA country implements its own immunisation programme.

Catch-up vaccination and boosters

Some people may have missed a vaccination or did not get the recommended number of doses.

When to avoid vaccination

A vaccine may be contraindicated for certain people, meaning they should not receive it.

Page last updated 13 Mar 2020