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Vaccines, the current situation of vaccination coverage

On the occasion of the European Immunization Week (EIW) celebrated this year from 23rd to 29th April 2018, the Ministry of Health has announced the updated data for 2017 on the vaccination coverage of the pediatric and adolescent age.

The vaccine coverage is the indicator par excellence of the vaccination strategies, as they provide information on their real implementation on the territory and on the efficiency of the vaccination system.

Although vaccination is considered by the Institutions to be an effective and safe tool for the prevention of infectious diseases, from 2013 to 2016 vaccination coverage showed a decreasing trend, falling well below the 95% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. Health (WHO) to limit the circulation of these viruses and bacteria in the community and to obtain in addition to the protection of individual vaccinated persons also the so-called immunity of flock (or population or heard immunity): in fact, if at least 95% of the population is vaccinated , those who, for health reasons, could not be vaccinated are also indirectly protected.

In particular, as a consequence of the inadequate vaccination coverage against measles, in 2017 our country was affected by a large measles epidemic, which caused almost 5,000 cases, of which over 300 among health workers, with 4 deaths ( ISS report n.37 January 2018).

To avoid that the trend continues to decrease, avoid the risk of recurrence of diseases now eliminated from Italy or under control, and taking into account the lack of effectiveness of the strategies implemented up to then, the Italian Ministry of Health has deemed it appropriate a radical change of approach , with the approval of the decree-law 7 June 2017, n. 73, converted with amendments, by law 31 July 2017, n. 119, which increased the number of mandatory vaccinations from 4 to 10, extending the obligation to recommended vaccinations already present on the calendar since 1999.

Data on vaccination coverage

The vaccination coverage data as of December 31, 2017, relative to the age for which the hedges are monitored on a routine basis annually, plus some ages subject to ad hoc monitoring in order to verify the impact of the introduction of the vaccine obligation, are positive:

The European Vaccination Week

The initiative, launched in 2005 by the European Regional Office of the World Health Organization, aims to increase awareness of the risk associated with infectious diseases and the importance of vaccinations among the population and health workers, as an instrument of protection for the health of the individual and of the community.

In Italy, thanks to vaccinations, over 70,000 deaths due to diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (the three infectious diseases with the highest mortality in the last century) and about 4 million cases of diphtheria have been prevented by the start of the related program, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, 35% of which would have affected children in their first years of life.

The theme of the European Vaccinations Week 2018 is "Vaccination as an individual right and shared responsibility for the health and well-being of all".

On the occasion of the Week, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the experts of the NITAG (National Vaccinations Commission) and some ISS researchers, oversaw the translation and adaptation of some communication materials produced by WHO Europe and the Center disease prevention and control (ECDC), on some general issues related to vaccinations and some vaccine-preventable diseases.