Lezione italiana: What the Italian life-course immunisation plan can teach others

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

January 12th, 2018

Gary Finnegan

Italy’s experience in introducing a life-course immunisation calendar has clear lessons for other European countries and regions.

Like Italy, almost all EU Member States have an ageing population. This makes embracing lifelong immunisation imperative as part of a broader effort to steer health systems onto a more sustainable and efficient path.

The Italian health and political system has its own idiosyncrasies and complexities. However, a broad coalition of stakeholders managed to usher in a new era in immunisation, making Italy a leader in the field.

The keys to success:

  • Scientific leadership: Well-established scientific societies worked together to develop an evidence-based vaccine calendar
  • Generate data: evidence of vaccine effectiveness and safety, as well as on the socio-economic impact of introduction vaccines is required by health and economic ministries
  • Working with officials: Key decision-makers were respected public health advocates, positively disposed to enhancing immunisation
  • Political commitment: the stability and personal support from Italy’s health minister throughout the process was an important factor in its deliver
  • Timing is important: the 2nd edition of the Calendar for Life created by the four scientific societies was published as the National Immunisation Plan was due to expire
  • Know the system: an understanding of the complexities of Italy’s national and regional governance structures was essential
  • Industry’s role: provided technical advice when requested and took part, with others, in public awareness campaigns.
  • Engage the public: scientists, doctors, politicians, industry, patients and others must participate in the public dialogue on vaccines and the value of lifelong immunisation