Press release | 9.4. 2024

Piloting exemplary practices in EU Member States

Photo of camera and recording equipment


The project momentum developed during last year’s on-site visits leads us on to the next phase of the Overcoming Obstacles to Vaccination project: Piloting exemplary practices in selected EU Member States.

The on-site visits, which took place in Spain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland, brought together health authorities who analysed practices and potential applications in their country or region. The focus in 2024 will now turn to adapting and implementing these exemplary practices in other EU Member States.

Pilot projects will test the relevance and transferability of selected practices under three clusters: school vaccination programmes, mobile vaccination units, and vaccination reminder schemes. The pilots will last 12 months and take place in nine EU Member States. Identification of the clusters and selection of the EU Member States that volunteer to run pilots are based on previous project tasks and activities, including:  

  • mapping of vaccination services and identification of obstacles to vaccination across the European Union,
  • large-scale surveys among citizens and health professionals across all Member States,
  • selection of five best practices to overcome vaccination obstacles of a physical, practical, and administrative nature, and 
  • active engagement with health authorities. 


To ensure the suitability of the selected practices and to meet the objectives of participating health authorities in the pilot phase, the project team undertook a step-by-step approach to building a list of volunteering EU Member States:

Step 1

As part of Task 1, national health experts conducted desk research and interviews to identify and map obstacles to vaccination in all Member States. The goal was to map vaccination services in all Member States and identify the main physical, practical and administrative barriers in citizens’ vaccination journey (i.e., outreach methods, pre-administration requirements, booking procedures, travel distance). 

Infographic presenting vaccination barriers identified in the EU Member States

Step 2

As part of Task 3, an open call to health authorities was launched inviting them to submit promising practices. A total of 24 practices from 16 health authorities were submitted through the Best Practice Portal of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE). A team of evaluators identified five promising practices to be taken forward for on-site visits based on the evaluation framework developed by the European Commission’s Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases (SGPP). The five promising practices selected were: 

Step 3

As part of Task 4, health authority representatives from across the EU took part in five separate on-site visits during which participants analysed the selected practice and reviewed the potential applications in their country or region. These exchanges allowed health authorities facing similar barriers and with similar interests to interact and share views and opinions. Their participation was key in pairing the practices with health authorities who were interested in piloting them.

Finally, the five practices selected were grouped in clusters (with similar typologies of practices) with similar characteristics and barriers in order to facilitate their adaptation to different national or regional contexts. Some aspects of these practices will therefore be adapted, transferred, and piloted. 

Typology of practices

The conceptualisation of the pilots is clustered in three typologies:

School vaccination programme

The two school vaccination programme practices put forward in Spain and Ireland are grouped into one typology. Both focus on outreach to children through vaccination programmes in schools, providing efficient access to vaccination for children while optimising staff resources. Health authorities in Estonia and the Netherlands will pilot the school vaccination programme practice.

Mobile units

Mobile vaccination unit practices in both the Netherlands and Italy tackle barriers faced by hard-to-reach groups and geographical proximity to vaccination services. These two practices are grouped as one practice type. This pilot project will be implemented by health authorities in Austria and Sweden. 

Reminder schemes

The Danish reminder scheme, enabling more efficient communication with citizens and improving the outreach of vaccination services, is the third practice type. Health authorities in Croatia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Murcia will pilot the transfer of this exemplary practice. 

Identification of suitable candidates for pilots

Once the typologies of practices had been identified, health authorities had the opportunity to express their interest in participating in a pilot in one of the three clusters via the submission of pilot fiches (i.e. a formal expression of interest and piloting ideas). 

For the purposes of implementing a pilot under this project, some pre-conditions apply to selection:

  • The presence of barriers addressed by the practice;
  • The desire or intention of the health authority to address these barriers, with active engagement and involvement during the on-site visits;
  • The appropriate legal framework and technical infrastructure to support the implementation of the pilot.

For example, the implementation of the school vaccination practice requires the presence of active school vaccination programmes in the country or region. Piloting aspects of the use of mobile units require that mobile units are or have been used already in the country or region, while the piloting of reminders requires the presence of an IT infrastructure. 

Based on the piloting proposals received by health authorities and assessment of the aforementioned aspects, nine pilots will be implemented in Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, and the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Murcia.

Next steps

The next steps of the project involve three phases:

  • Preparation: From March to May 2024, the project team will conduct a coordination meeting with the piloting health authorities and in-depth visits to each host country (namely, Denmark, The Netherlands and Murcia (Spain)) to gain extensive insights on the practical set up of the pilots and to exchange expertise. During this period, the team will collaborate on co-creating materials and establishing site protocols, continuing through April to June 2024.
  • Implementation: Pilots will take place from April to October 2024. This phase includes online peer support and a midterm review of the pilots in June-July to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. 
  • Evaluation: Evaluation of the pilots will be integrated into the approach, including ongoing data collection. The in-depth data analysis is scheduled for October 2024 to March 2025, when the transferability and impact of the pilots will be assessed. As part of task 5, recommendations will be developed which will feed into task 6 - Develop recommendations on how to overcome “convenience” obstacles to vaccination.

Interested in following the pilots’ developments? Subscribe to the newsletter.