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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’

  • Autori: Costantino, C.; Restivo, V.; Ventura, G.; D’Angelo, C.; Randazzo, M.; Casuccio, N.; Palermo, M.; Casuccio, A.; Vitale, F.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


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.