23 September 2015
From left: CoMO Intern Natalie Heritage, CoMO Vice-President Dr Daphne Holt and Julie Girling MEP
On the morning of Friday 18th September 2015 we took the short journey from our new CoMO HQ offices in Bristol to visit our local MEP in Gloucester, Julie Girling. We were pleased to be able to meet and talk with Julie and we were delighted that she was in favour of our current European project the ‘life-course immunisation initiative’ (LCI).
CoMO wants to ensure that life-course immunisation becomes a part of the European Parliament’s political agenda and thus, for a little while now, we have been seeking to engage policymakers with our initiative. Therefore, as you can imagine, we were glad that Julie accepted our invitation to meet and discuss the LCI.
Friday’s meeting was attended by two CoMO representatives, Dr Daphne Holt and Natalie Heritage, as well as Julie herself and her assistant, Adele Marshall-Reynolds. The meeting was informative and we were grateful for Julie and Adele’s advice about how to increase the chances of success of the LCI in the European political arena.
The above photograph pictures CoMO showing Julie a graph of the incidence rate of invasive pneumococcal disease across age ranges.
You can view the same graph below:
You can view the same graph below:Rates of reported confirmed IPD cases, by age and gender, EU/EEA countries, 2006–10
Source: SAATI Partnership, 2011, p.21
We talked about how a life-course approach to vaccination is needed, because as the above graph shows, whilst babies and infants are susceptible to pneumococcal disease, the over 65 year olds are even more prone to the disease and 45-65 year olds appear noticeably vulnerable too. Clearly, this graph shows that vaccination efforts, while quite rightly focused on children, must also focus on adults too. CoMO certainly thinks so and this is what we were discussing with Julie and Adele. We were also able to show Julie some research, which showed that vaccinating adults has beneficial economic consequences; investing 1 euro in adult immunisation can generate over 4 euros of future economic revenue for governments.
Currently healthcare systems across Europe have different priorities, thus many member states do not offer the medicine or treatments that their neighbouring counterparts offer; for example in the UK 65 year olds are entitled to a pneumococcal disease vaccination, yet in Portugal, no citizen of ANY age is entitled to a pneumococcal disease vaccination. We believe that this is an unfair situation that needs to be resolved, therefore, CoMO is advocating for the incorporation of life-course vaccinations into EU and National disease prevention strategies.
Overall, Julie’s advice about how to proceed with the LCI in the European political arena was useful to us. We are delighted that Julie is willing to support our campaign for life-course vaccination in Europe. Make sure you stay tuned, because we are hoping that this will be the start of a prosperous relationship between CoMO and our local MEP, Julie Girling.
Natalie is a recent graduate from the University of Birmingham, where she studied International Relations with French. She has particular expertise in the international political economy and its relation with international healthcare organisations. She is an intern at CoMO, where she is currently working on the Life-Course Immunisation Initiative.