Life-course vaccination

Vaccination is vital to improve population health throughout life – but despite strong evidence, it is misunderstood and undervalued. 

Life-course vaccination

Vaccination is vital to improve population health throughout life – but despite strong evidence, it is misunderstood and undervalued. 


Vaccination is a cornerstone of public health. It is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) methods of preventing the spread of infectious disease. Yet its benefits are often misunderstood, and implementation varies widely across Europe.

Most vaccination programmes focus on discrete life stages such as childhood, but evidence supports a life-course approach, meaning vaccination given through all phases of life. Taking this life-course approach to vaccination will not only help individuals maintain good health through life, but also has the potential for enormous public health and socioeconomic benefits.

Widespread vaccination can also reduce rates of illness in our societies – including among people who are not vaccinated – through herd immunity. This is crucial for vulnerable people such as young infants or people with certain illnesses who cannot be vaccinated themselves.

High vaccination rates can also help to reduce our reliance on antibiotics, which contributes to antimicrobial resistance – one of the most pressing challenges facing healthcare in the 21st century, contributing to over 25,000 deaths per year in Europe alone.

What we achieved

HPP developed a report looking at what adopting a life-course approach to vaccination means in practice – and highlighting key steps to achieve this. The report and two infographics were launched in May 2018, with the endorsement of many leading experts in vaccination.

An open letter to the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) accompanied the launch of the report. In the open letter, the report’s authors express support for the European Commission’s proposal for a Council recommendation on strengthening European cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases, and call for all stakeholders to come together to ensure vaccination achieves its potential for future generations.

In October 2018, HPP organised a session at the European Health Forum Gastein entitled ‘Vaccines for all – leaving no one behind’, on behalf of MSD and the Coalition for Life-course Immunisation. The session included the launch of an animation created by HPP, explaining the benefits of a life-course approach to vaccination.

HPP also led the development of a peer-reviewed article with several of the report’s co-authors. The article was published as a commentary in Vaccine in September 2019.

Key partners and stakeholders


  • Teresa Aguado, ISGlobal
  • James Goodwin, Age UK
  • Daphne Holt, Coalition for Life-course Immunisation (CLCI)
  • Heidi Larson, Vaccine Confidence Project
  • Sam Nye, Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO)
  • David Salisbury, Centre on Global Health Security
  • Mariano Votta, Cittadinanzattiva – Active Citizenship Network
  • Jamie Wilkinson, Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU)


  • Arnold Bosman, Transmissible
  • Marie-Paule Kieny, INSERM
The project was initiated and funded by MSD.