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Measles vaccine became commercially available in Italy in 1976 and the administration of one dose at 15 months of age was recommended by the ministry of health in 1979. In the 1980s, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced, and in 1999 the recommended age for the first dose was lowered to 12 months. Decisions regarding the administration of MMR vaccine are the responsibility of the regional health authorities, and vaccination coverage varies greatly by region. In 1999, taking into account the varying levels of vaccine coverage in children up to the age of 24 months in different regions, the ministry of health recommended strategies including a catch up campaign, and the offer of a second dose (1). A distinction was therefore made between areas with one dose measles vaccine coverage of less than 80% and those with higher levels of coverage. In areas with lower coverage, the vaccination of older susceptible children was emphasised, while in regions where vaccine coverage within the first two years of life exceeded 80%, the administration of a second dose at 5-6 years or at 11-12 years of age was recommended.


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