Background: Although vaccination has been proved to be a safe, efficacious, and cost-effective intervention, immunisation rates remain suboptimal in many European countries, resulting in poor control of many vaccine-preventable diseases. Discussion: The Summit of Independent European Vaccination Experts focused on the perception of vaccines and vaccination by the general public and healthcare professionals and discussed ways to improve vaccine uptake in Europe. Despite the substantial impact and importance of the media, healthcare professionals were identified as the main advocates for vaccination and the most important source of information about vaccines for the general public. Healthcare professionals should receive more support for their own education on vaccinology, have rapid access to up-to-date information on vaccines, and have easy access to consultation with experts regarding vaccination-related problems. Vaccine information systems should be set up to facilitate promotion of vaccination. Summary: Every opportunity to administer vaccines should be used, and active reminder systems should be set up. A European vaccine awareness week should be established. © 2007 Schmitt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.