Vaccine Preventable Diseases

HCDCP’s Newsletter devoted to Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Official Circulars on Vaccinations by the Ministry of Health

Immunization Program for Adults (2011)

New National Immunization Program for Children and Adolescents (2011)

Vaccination against tuberculosis (2012)

Vaccination for seasonal influenza (2012-2013)


The Office for Vaccine Preventable and Congenital Diseases aims at :


A. Epidemiological surveillance of VPD’s

The Office for Vaccine Preventable and Congenital Diseases (VPD) of the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention is responsible for the surveillance of the diseases: meningitis (bacterial and aseptic) and meningococcal disease, measles, rubella, mumps, pertussis, varicella with complications, tetanus / neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis and congenital infections (rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis). Surveillance of these diseases is mainly performed through the Mandatory Notification System (MNS) while data are also collected through a Sentinel system in primary health care (sentinel). All the above-mentioned diseases are included in the Mandatory Notification System. Disease definitions, notification forms and instructions for their completion are available at the HCDCP site (eody.gov.gr).

Case definitions used are consistent with those set by the European Community legislation (2008/426/EC). Measles, rubella, mumps, pertussis and chickenpox are also monitored through the Sentinel system in primary health care (sentinel), which mainly has under surveillance diseases with wide significance for public health, relatively high frequency and mild clinical manifestations (thus usually not requiring hospitalization).

Specifically, the Office coordinates:

A1. Poliomyelitis’ Surveillance

Among the Vaccine Preventable Diseases, poliomyelitis has a special significance as it has been a scourge in the past. After the implementation of systematic vaccination and close epidemiological surveillance, WHO declared the American Continent as polio free region in 1994, the Western Pacific in 2000 and Europe in 2002. In order to maintain Europe and the other regions as disease-free, WHO launched the surveillance of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) in all children aged less than 15 years old but also to adults of any age when polio is suspected. The monitoring and investigating of all AFP cases increases the system’s sensitivity to early detect of even rare cases, to detect the introduction of wild polio virus from endemic countries and to determine the incidence of vaccine-related cases. In our country, AFP surveillance is crucial due to country’s characteristics such as the immigration and entrance of refugees from endemic areas, the existence of special population groups with low vaccination coverage (eg Romas) and the proximity to countries, either until recently endemic or with collapsed health systems. Fifty-two (52) doctors from 24 hospitals in the country (neurologists, pediatricians and intensive care doctors) participate in the AFP clinical surveillance network.

Network’s main fields of actions are:

Within the intensification of polio surveillance in our country, the Office coordinates:

A2.Surveillance of Meningitis

One of the diseases that are of particular interest to the general public is meningitis. Greece is one of the few countries in the world that has under surveillance meningitis as a whole, collecting data on meningococcal disease (which is usually the main target of surveillance), as well as for bacterial and aseptic meningitis. The Office of Vaccine Preventable Diseases collects data through the mandatory notification form for meningitis cases, which are hospitalized throughout the country and through the daily communication with the National Reference Center for Meningitis (NRMC) of the National School of Public Health. Follow up of hospitalized patients is performed in order to obtain additional information on the clinical status and laboratory findings of the patient and the notification form statement is sent by fax to the Regional Directorates of Public Health and Social Welfare. Crucial is the causal classification of the case in order to take all necessary measures (chemoprophylaxis and / or vaccination when needed) in cooperation with the Directorate of Public Health to prevent the spread of the disease in all persons who came in close contact with the case.

In particular, surveillance of meningitis include the following actions by the Office of Vaccine Preventable Diseases:

A3. Surveillance of Measles

Measles is the next targeted disease for eradication by WHO, just after polio. For its global achievement, it seems that more than 10 years are required but for the European zone of WHO, the measles strategic plan for 2010-2015 aims to achieve and maintain vaccination coverage of 95%, reduction of cases in less than 5 per one million population and reduction of mortality by 95% compared to 2000. Measles is a highly contagious acute viral disease that can lead to serious complications and even death. Despite the implementation of effective and safe vaccine, the goal of WHO for measles eradication from Europe by 2010 has not been attained. On the contrary, in 2010, 30.367 measles cases were reported in Europe, of which 22.005 (25 deaths) were reported in Bulgaria and several in France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain. In Greece, measles outbreaks were reported in 2005, 2006 and in 2010 – 2011 with 149 cases in 2010 and 40 cases by the end of 2011.

More specifically, the Office for Vaccine Preventable Diseases in order to take care of outbreaks carries out :

B. Informing the public and healthcare professionals on VPDs transmission and prevention

C. Vaccination coverage study

Perform a vaccination coverage study in order to make a systematic record of children’s vaccination status and draw conclusions on potential need for periodic updating of national vaccination strategies.

D. Scientific support and written instructions in case of interventions in VPD’s outbreaks or individual cases

E. Convergence of poliomyelitis’ Scientific committees

F. Representation in international organizations

Representation of Greece to WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on issues related to VPD by communicating data, reply to questionnaires etc.

G. Participation in the HCDCP’s website and Newsletter


Full Name Property Tel. Email
Theano Georgakopoulou Office Manager
Pipa Euthalia RN (MSc)
Vernardaki Alexandra Administrative personnel (BSc, MSc)
Mavraganis Pantelis Administrative personnel
Katsaounos Panagiotis Administrative personnel