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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15051014

Increased Vaccination Coverage among Adolescents and Young Adults in the District of Palermo as a Result of a Public Health Strategy to Counteract an ‘Epidemic Panic’

1
Department of Science for Health Promotion and Mother to Child Care “G. D’Alessandro”, University of Palermo, 90127 Palermo, Italy
2
Department of Medical Prevention, Local Health Unit of Palermo, 90100 Palermo, Italy
3
Sicilian Health Department, Public Health and Environmental Risks Service, 90127 Palermo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 15 May 2018 / Accepted: 16 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
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Abstract

During the summer of 2016 four cases of invasive meningococcal disease in rapid succession among young adults in the district of Palermo, Italy, resulting in one death, were widely reported by local and national mass media. The resultant ‘epidemic panic’ among the general population overloaded the vaccination units of the Palermo district over the following months. Strategies implemented by the Sicilian and local public health authorities to counteract ‘meningitis fear’ included the following: (a) extension of active and free-of-charge anti-meningococcal tetravalent vaccination from age class 12–18 to 12–30 years old; (b) implementation of vaccination units during normal clinic hours in rooms tailored for vaccine administration; (c) development of informative institutional tools and timely communication throughout local mass media to reassure the general population. In 2016, an increase in the anti-meningococcal coverage was observed in the Palermo district (+18% for 16-year-olds and +14% for 18-year-olds) and at the regional level (+11.2% and +13.5%, respectively). Concurrent catch-up of other recommended vaccinations for age (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-poliomyelitis and papillomavirus) resulted in a further increase of administered doses. The fear of meningitis, managed by the Sicilian public health authorities, had positive impacts in terms of prevention. In particular, the communication strategies that were adopted contributed to educating Sicilian young adults about vaccination issues. View Full-Text
Keywords: meningitis; vaccination campaign; mass media; outbreak meningitis; vaccination campaign; mass media; outbreak
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Costantino, C.; Restivo, V.; Ventura, G.; D’Angelo, C.; Randazzo, M.A.; Casuccio, N.; Palermo, M.; Casuccio, A.; Vitale, F. Increased Vaccination Coverage among Adolescents and Young Adults in the District of Palermo as a Result of a Public Health Strategy to Counteract an ‘Epidemic Panic’. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1014.

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