“As we move into autumn and winter, there is a real risk of a high increase in Covid-19 cases and high mortality rates in unvaccinated populations across the EU/EEA [European Union and European Economic Area] ”, warns the ECDC in a report.

Aimed at “facilitating the acceptance and taking of the anti-covid-19 vaccine in the EU/EEA”, the report released by the European agency stresses, from the outset, that this must be an “urgent and immediate priority” for countries, as it is a voluntary process and there are large discrepancies between different European countries.

Although 74% of people over 18 in the EU/EEA are currently fully vaccinated (while 79% have only one dose of vaccine), coverage is far from equal across countries.

Full vaccination rates vary between 23% and 91%, with Bulgaria and Romania being the countries with the lowest percentages and Portugal and Ireland the ones with the highest vaccination coverage.

“This highlights several gaps that must be closed in order to increase the use of the anti-covid-19 vaccine, as low vaccination rates in some countries or population subgroups can result in the continued burden of health care systems and rates of preventable mortality,” insists the ECDC.

In an attempt to raise the vaccination rate, European countries adopted additional measures such as the creation of incentives (including monetary), the imposition of presentation of documents proving vaccination, testing or recovery to access certain places or events or even the obligation taking the vaccine (adopted for example for health professionals in certain countries).

"However, it is important to note that although these initiatives may prove effective as a stimulus for the undecided or against vaccination, they seek to shape behaviour rather than change the way people think and feel about vaccination", states the ECDC.