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BMC Public Health. 2005 Apr 21;5:42.

Compulsory and recommended vaccination in Italy: evaluation of coverage and non-compliance between 1998-2002 in Northern Italy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Public Health, University of Bologna, Via San Giacomo 12, Bologna, Italy.



Since vaccinations are an effective prevention tool for maintaining the health of society, the monitoring of immunization coverage allows us to identify areas where disease outbreaks are likely to occur, and possibly assist us in predicting future outbreaks. The aim of this study is the investigation of the coverage achieved for compulsory (diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B,) and recommended (pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae, measles-mumps-rubella) vaccinations between 1998 and 2002 in the municipality of Bologna and the identification of the subjects not complying with compulsory and recommended vaccinations.


The statistics regarding vaccinal coverage were elaborated from the data supplied by the Bologna vaccinal registration system (1998-2000) and the IPV4 program (2001-2002). To calculate the coverage for compulsory vaccinations and cases of non-compliance reference was made to the protocol drawn up by the Emilia Romagna Regional Administration. The reasons for non-compliance were divided into various categories


In Bologna the levels of immunization for the four compulsory vaccinations are satisfactory: over 95% children completed the vaccinal cycle, receiving the booster for anti-polio foreseen in their 3rd year and for anti-diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis at 6 years. The frequency of subjects with total non-compliance (i.e. those who have not begun any compulsory vaccinations by the age of one year) is generally higher in Bologna than in the region, with a slight increase in 2002 (2.52% and 1.06% in the city and the region respectively). The frequency of the anti-measles vaccination is higher than that of mumps and rubella, which means that the single vaccine, as opposed to the combined MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) was still being used in the period in question. The most common reason for non compliance is objection of parents and is probably due to reduction of certain diseases or anxiety about the possible risks.


In Bologna the frequency of children aged 12 and 24 months who have achieved compulsory vaccination varied, in 2002, between 95% and 98%. As regards recommended vaccinations the percentage of coverage against Haemophilus influenzae is 93.3%, while the levels for measles, mumps and pertussis range from 84% to approx. 92%. Although these percentages are higher if compared to those obtained by other Italian regions, every effort should be made to strengthen the aspects that lead to a successful vaccinal strategy.

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