Dr Anna Odone, Unit of Public Health, University of Parma, said the previous version of the schedule paid too little attention to adults.
This prompted collaboration by four scientific societies – the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, the Italian Society of Paediatrics, Italian Federation of Family Paediatricians, and the Italian Federation of General Practitioners.
Dr Odone said that ageing populations in Italy and elsewhere in Europe will bring a rising burden of disease, along with increased economic costs. “Vaccination plays a key role in healthy ageing in the 21st century,” she told a pre-conference session at the European Public Health Conference in Glasgow.
The Italian system remains complex with variations in vaccine policy arising because services are delivered by 21 separate regional authorities. Dr Odone said harmonising immunisation strategies across Europe would help to reduce inequalities and simplify adult vaccination campaigns.
Meanwhile, concerns over a perceived rise in vaccine hesitancy in Italy prompted Italian health professionals to launch VaccinarSí, a website providing vaccine information to the public.
Professor Carlo Signorelli, President, Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, said the reasons for delaying or refusing vaccines were complex.
Nonetheless, he said health making quality information available online was essential given the growing usage of the Internet and social media. The site is supported by the Italian pharmaceutical industry and has the backing of the Ministry of Health.
The project targets the general population and healthcare workers involved in immunisation decisions and features articles, videos and multimedia presentations curated by a scientific committee.
“The Internet might not reach everyone but it is a powerful channel. The results so far of this comprehensive, publically available vaccine information have been very encouraging. They have led to a significant reduction in negative commentary and press articles regarding vaccines. Interestingly healthcare professionals are equally reaping the benefits of the website information and further expansion of the site will be considered,” said Professor Signorelli.