Vaccination to prevent disease is commonplace in Europe today. Certain diseases have already been eradicated by rigorous vaccination campaigns, while others are hoped to be eliminated soon, such as measles and congenital rubella. Yet challenges remain. New vaccines that are being developed against existing diseases such as infections with human papillomavirus and may be developed against newly emerging diseases in the future, need to be monitored and evaluated.
Some vaccines are still underutilised. Although vaccination has become increasingly safe and effective, one of the major challenges we face is opposition in the population against immunisation. We may have become too used to the benefits of vaccination, some diseases now being so rare that we do not even remember how devastating their consequences can be. Immunisation programmes are threatened by insufficient information, by unsubstantiated rumours about adverse effects, or by groups that, for religious or other reasons, are opposed to vaccination. Communication of the correct scientific facts it is therefore important to enable both policy makers and the public to make an informed choice.