Surveillance report Open Access
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The 7-valent anti-pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), anti-meningococcal C-conjugate vaccine (MenC) and varicella vaccine have been recently introduced in EU. In Italy, these vaccines have so far been recommended for use in specific groups. Since the health system is decentralised, the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) can decide to recommend vaccination for other target populations. We conducted a survey to describe the recommendations on these vaccines currently in place in the 21 Italian regions. In November 2005, a standardised questionnaire was sent to RHAs, including information on the existence of regional recommendations, vaccination target population, and whether vaccines were provided free of charge, or at a reduced cost compared to pharmacies. Information reported in the questionnaires were followed up in May 2006. All 21 regions completed and returned the questionnaire and were contacted for follow-up. Recommendations about at least one of the three vaccines were present in 20 out of 21 regions. All included free of charge PCV offering to specific groups, while MenC and varicella immunisations were recommended in 17 and 19 regions, respectively. Recommendations for other individuals varied greatly by area: free of charge PCV and MenC vaccinations targeting all infants have been recommended in nine regions, and varicella vaccination targeting children in the second year of life in three regions. These different recommendations can lead to marked variation in vaccination coverage rates observed through the country, with a consequent different level of disease control. It is thus crucial to properly monitor vaccination coverage rates for PCV, MenC and varicella, as these are not routinely collected at the national level.


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