An expert group of European public health advocates and professionals has created a dedicated partnership entitled SAATI – Supporting Active Ageing Through Immunisation – to encourage comprehensive adult immunisation policies in order to reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases in Europe.

PARIS, 23 January 2012 – A newly-formed group of key European partners – SAATI (Supporting Active Ageing Through Immunisation) announced their commitment to tackle low public awareness of the risk and burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in older adults. 

During the European Union’s (EU) 2012 Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, SAATI will engage with policy makers and other stakeholders to examine how vaccination, as a prevention strategy, should be part of an age-based health approach throughout all phases of life. Currently, vaccination policy is patchy and mainly considers the very young, the very old or those in at-risk groups. 

“We are taking advantage of the EU’s focus on Active Ageing to underline the need to review European policies, practices and communication around adult vaccination,” stated Professor Javier Garau, SAATI Chair and former President of ESCMID. “Vaccination is a particularly relevant health strategy for adults since the immune system weakens as we get older, and this increases our risk of contracting serious yet vaccine-preventable diseases, such as flu and pneumococcal disease. In addition, the symptoms and impact of these diseases are often poorly understood by the general public.  Unlike with infants, there are no comprehensive or consistent guidelines for adult immunisation, and we believe this is one of the major barriers to reducing preventable and sometimes fatal illnesses.”

Across Europe, pneumonia alone is estimated to cost over 10 billion Euros in direct and indirect costs annually.1 This should be a concern for European policy makers, not only because of Europe’s ageing society but equally due to pressures all governments are facing to better manage the costs of healthcare and social welfare.

“Immunisation is not just for children, but is essential across the life course. We need to normalise immunisation as an important part of healthy ageing. Comprehensive adult vaccination strategies would significantly reduce the incidence and burden to individuals, employers and healthcare systems,” said Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre, United Kingdom.

The EU has identified healthy ageing as a societal challenge common to all European countries. As such, it has designated 2012 as the Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. This year will provide the opportunity to further investigate the role of prevention and health management strategies for older adults to enable them to maintain an active role in society.

At an inaugural planning meeting on 27-28 October 2011, SAATI partners met to share their views and insights on what constitutes the main barriers to effective immunisation programmes for adults in Europe. Despite a broad consensus by EU Health Ministers on the value of vaccines, adult immunisation rates remain highly unpredictable and variable.  SAATI will be working with a range of other partners to better understand the root causes and propose policy-related solutions for the future.

Media Contact:
International Longevity Centre      
Jessica Watson
+44 (0)207 340 0440
+44 (0)7828 201 060 (mobile)

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SAATI is a voluntary partnership of European partners who have an interest in improving the health of citizens as they grow older, and reducing the incidence of illness through effective immunisation.  The partners include representatives from different perspectives, including clinicians, health promotion experts, advocacy groups, nurses, industry, think tanks and healthy ageing specialists. The group has come together with a commitment to tackle low public awareness of the risk and burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pneumococcal disease, in adults.  The consensus statement resulted from the European stakeholder meeting on the Value of and Barriers to Adult Vaccination organised and funded by Pfizer.

SAATI aims to:

  • Increase public and policy maker awareness of the need for adult vaccinations to combat vaccine-preventable diseases, such as flu, pneumonia, invasive pneumococcal disease, pertussis, diphtheria, herpes zoster and tetanus
  • Leverage EU Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations to promote better public health communication on the value of vaccines and the need for supportive age-based national health policies

SAATI Partners:

  • Prof. Javier Garau – SAATI Chair and former President of ESCMID;  Associate Prof. of Medicine, University of Barcelona; Head of Department of Medicine, Hospital Universitari Mutua de Terrassa, Barcelona – Spain
  • Mr. David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications, The International Longevity Centre - UK
  • Prof. Roberto Bernabei, Head of Geriatric Institute of Catholic University – Rome; President, Agency for Healthy Ageing – Italy
  • Prof. Hartmut M Lode, Head, Research Centre for Medical Studies, Institute for Clinical Pharmacology, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin-Germany
  • Prof. Jean-Paul Stahl, Head of Infectious Disease Dept, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Grenoble – France
  • Ms. Michele Lawrence, Consultant Nurse in Health Protection & Director MMidas LTD - UK
  • Prof. David Taylor, University of London School of Pharmacy – Public Health & Policy - UK
  • Dr. Daphne Holt, Vice President, Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (COMO)
  • Ms. Christine Rolland, Vice President, European Federation Of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association (EFA)
  • Dr. Ian Banks, President, European Men’s Health Forum (EMHF)
  • Ms. Hildrun Sundseth, Member of the Board, The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH)
  • Ms. Katharina Braun, Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Senioren-Organisationen e.V. (BAGSO), Bonn - Germany
  • Ms. Sylvie St-Laurent, Senior Director, International Public Affairs, Pfizer PIO

About the European Year for Active Ageing & Solidarity between Generations
2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. This year provides a platform for policy-makers and stakeholders to reflect on how Europeans are living longer and staying healthier than ever before — and to realise the opportunities it represents for them to:

  • stay in the workforce and share their experience
  • keep playing an active role in society
  • live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.

It is also key to maintaining solidarity between generations in societies with rapidly increasing numbers of older people.

The challenge for politicians and stakeholders will be to improve opportunities for active ageing in general and for living independently, acting in areas as diverse as employment, health care, social services, adult learning, volunteering, housing, IT services or transport.

The European Year seeks to raise awareness of the issues and the best ways of dealing with them. But most of all it seeks to encourage all policymakers and stakeholders to set themselves goals and take action to meet them. 2012 should go beyond debating; it should start bringing tangible results.

For Further Information:


  1. Welte T. et al. Clinical and economic burden of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Thorax. 2012;(67):71-79.


SAATI Consensus Statement ()

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