EUROPE is to allow vaccination against avian influenza from 12 March following an update to the framework for their use.
While no specific vaccinations are authorised, the change paves the way for their use if results from current trials prove favourable.
The EU Commission said it was “harmonising” the rules on vaccination as a measure to control or prevent avian influenza.
They will allow for the safe movement of animals and products from establishments and zones where vaccination has taken place.
Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “In light of the most serious outbreak in recent history in the EU, the fight against avian influenza is at the top of our priorities.
“These outbreaks are causing enormous damage to this agricultural sector and hamper trade.
“The rules presented today will allow for a harmonisation of the use of vaccination to prevent or control the spread of the disease and set conditions to enable movement of vaccinated animals and their products.”
A spokesperson added the new rules were in line with international standards from the World Organisation for Animal Health.
Currently, three trials are underway in Europe looking at different avian influenza vaccines in France, the Netherlands and Italy.
The Dutch government is expected to announce whether it considers vaccination a viable control measure this month.
Last week, the US announced it would start trialling avian influenza vaccinations, a significant step given the country’s previous resistance to their use because of trade implications.