ESPID Education

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Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective interventions in public health (Figure 1) and has led to a remarkable reduction in child mortality in countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region over the past few decades (see example in Figure 2). Globally, immunisation saves millions of lives every year. (WHO, 2018).

However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of measles in the WHO European Region, which has served as a wake up call necessitating our urgent action. While 9 out of 10 children in the region are receiving at least a basic set of vaccinations during infancy, this is not enough to prevent the spread of measles. In addition, pockets of unimmunised or underimmunised groups persist and outbreaks continue to occur (WHO, 2018b). The success of immunisation programmes has led some groups to be complacent and to fear vaccination more than the serious diseases it prevents.

In September 2014 the Member States of the WHO European Region adopted the European Vaccine Action Plan, which includes the goals of eliminating measles and rubella, sustaining polio-free status and controlling hepatitis B infection

Healthcare workers are a vital part of this process and have a crucial role to play in allaying vaccine safety fears, tackling vaccine hesitancy and emphasising the benefits and the value of vaccines. Communities need to be supported in seeing the value of vaccines not just for individuals, but for society, and as part of being a responsible citizen. Healthcare workers also have a responsibility to protect patients' health by being vaccinated themselves and thereby reducing transmission.

The course was developed by WHO and ESPID with generous contributions of the modules’ authors.

Aims and objectives
​This online course aims to provide training that will increase your awareness and knowledge of vaccine-preventable diseases and the vaccines to prevent them.

The objective is for you to develop competencies relating to vaccine-preventable diseases to enable you to competently and confidently provide accurate and up-to-date information about the diseases and their vaccines to recipients of vaccines and/or their caregivers as appropriate.

The competencies for the modules incorporate some of the guidance from Public Health England’s National Minimum Standards for Immunisation Training (Public Health England, 2005) and include:

  • clinical presentation, diagnosis and prognosis of some diseases for which the vaccines are recommended
  • the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases
  • true contraindications, specific considerations and possible side effects of vaccines
  • advising parents (or people with parental responsibility) about immunisation for children.

Course structure
The course is divided into six modules as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Module 1: Eliminating measles and rubella and controlling other viral exanthems – measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccines and guidance on communicating with patients and parents
  • Module 2: Preventing sepsis – pneumococcal, meningococcal, haemophilus influenzae type b, BCG and influenza vaccines
  • Module 3: Preventing pertussis (and other toxoid-producing bacteria) – pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria vaccines
  • Module 4: Eradicating poliomyelitis and protecting from rotavirus gastroenteritis – poliomyelitis and rotavirus vaccines
  • Module 5: Preventing cancers – hepatitis and human papillomavirus vaccines
  • Module 6: Antenatal immunization: protecting infants – pertussis, influenza and group B streptococcus vaccines and new horizons

​You can obtain your certificate of completion, once you finish all the modules listed above, and fill out the evaluation.

The authors:
Rebecca Casey
Simon Drysdale
Elisa Fernandez-Cooke
Adam Finn
Ronald de Groot
Paul Heath
Christine Jones
Manish Sadarangani
Abigail Shefer
Margaret Stanley
Johannes Trück
Timo Vesikari

Copyright on your course
In an online course, you may need to look at text, images or other materials. We have designed the course so that the materials we direct you to are available on an external website or reproduced in the online course material. Permission has been granted for us to reproduce all images and other material included in the course materials.

Copyright statement
More generally you may find it useful to remind yourself of the copyright statement below, which applies to the course as a whole.

Course content
All rights, including copyright, in the content of these Web pages are owned or controlled for these purposes by the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID).

In accessing these Web pages, you agree that you may only download the content for your own personal non-commercial use.

You are not permitted to copy, broadcast, download, store (in any medium), transmit, show or play in public, adapt or change in any way the content of these Web pages for any other purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of ESPID.

For rights clearance, please contact the ESPID Administrative Office.

User contributions
The copyright for all original user contributions within this course (including but not limited to forum posts) remains with the contributor.

You are not permitted to copy, broadcast, download, store (in any medium), transmit, show or play in public, adapt or change in any way, or for any purpose whatsoever, the contributions of others, without having first obtained prior written permission from the individuals concerned.

Link the ESPID Research Café for those interested in research collaborations in Vaccination:

The link to research café is here -

We realise that you are busy, and also that participants will start this course with a wide range of previous experience.

In order to get maximum benefit from the course, you should plan to spend about two hours on each module, and a little longer if you decide to follow up some of the further reading.

You will find that some of your time is spent reading and thinking, and the rest of your time will be spent doing a mixture of individual study, completing the pre- and post-module tests and, where you find it helpful, discussing your thoughts with fellow participants in the discussion forums. In undertaking this course, you are committing yourself to:

  • reading the online course materials
  • adhering to the online netiquette guidelines outlined later in this section and the terms and conditions you agreed to when you registered for the course.

What academic support you can expect

While this course is not tutor led, there is some academic help available to you. As you work through each module there will be an associated discussion forum where you can post messages. These will be checked regularly and a subject expert will reply if an answer has not already been supplied by a fellow student.

The course is ideal for any health worker who is involved with immunization including general practitioners, paediatricians, obstetricians, nurses, midwives etc.

The practices of courtesy and respect that apply to working with any group also apply online; however, as we cannot see each other when working online, these practices may require even more attention. Although many of you will be aware of how to communicate effectively online at work and elsewhere, here is a summary of the netiquette guidelines as a reminder:

1. Participate
In the online environment, it’s not enough just to turn up. If you don’t join in no one will know that you are there!

2. Share questions and tips
Questions you post to the discussion forums will help others, and taking part in discussions will help you to learn. It is often the case that where a student encounters a problem, it is the experience of the other students that is most valuable.

Although the students on this course will share a common interest in studying the subject, they will come from around the world and bring a range of different personal experiences and also perspectives from different cultures, so, within a group, there will be a great deal of relevant and complementary experience. This means that all members will have something to contribute and a lot to learn from each other.

3. Think before you click
Before you post your comments, check through what you have written. It’s always helpful to check if you have written what you mean and to think how the people reading your words will react.

4. Remember that we can’t see the grin on your face
Help us ‘see’ you by explaining your ideas fully. You could also use an emoticon to let the reader know that your comment is meant to be ironic or funny.

5. Remember there is a person who will be reading your message
Because visual clues are often lacking in online communication, electronic messages can easily seem harsher than they are intended to be. If you disagree with what someone has said, please bear this in mind as you express that disagreement.

Abusive messages to other students are not acceptable and any such postings will be removed from the discussion forums. If you have been offended by someone please do not respond on the discussion forum, as this makes things unpleasant for the whole group. You can take the matter to your online tutor, who will help you to resolve it.

6. Keep your messages short and to the point
When composing your messages, aim to express your thoughts concisely. Lengthy postings do not hold people’s attention and are less likely to get a response.

7. Use paragraphs to break up your text
Even relatively short messages can be difficult to read online unless they are broken up.

8. Any derogatory or inappropriate comments are unacceptable
Any offensive postings will be removed from the discussion forums without notice and any serious or persistent breaches of the netiquette guidelines outlined here may result in the discontinuation of the concerned student’s study and access to the course.

Chapter 1. Eliminating measles and rubella and controlling other viral exanthems
Chapter 2. Preventing sepsis
Chapter 3. Preventing pertussis (and other toxoid-producing bacteria)
Chapter 4. Eradicating poliomyelitis and protecting from rotavirus gastroenteritis
Chapter 5. Preventing cancers
Chapter 6. Antenatal immunisation: Protecting infants
Evaluation and Certificate

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