The words of the professor of Hygiene at the University of Genoa and director of the Inter-university Center for research on influenza and other transmissible infections (Ciri-it) on the sidelines of the extraordinary national public health conference
“We, who have always dealt with vaccines, always put them all on the same level: the recommended vaccinations are no less important than the mandatory ones”. These are the words of Giancarlo Icardi, professor of Hygiene at the University of Genoa and director of the Inter-university center for research on influenza and other transmissible infections (Ciri-it), on the sidelines of the extraordinary national public health conference underway at Villa Erba in Cernobbio (Como) organized by the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health (Sites), at Villa Erba in Cernobbio from 12 to 14 October.
“When we talk about meningitis, we pronounce a word that still evokes ancient fears – underlines Icardii -. And rightly so, I would add. Meningitis, in fact, although a fairly rare disease, is extremely disabling. Just remember – continues the expert – that even today half of those who contract meningitis or sepsis, i.e. blood meningococcus, unfortunately die and, when they survive, often have lifelong disabilities, such as amputation of limbs or mental disabilities. This is why the primary prevention we can do thanks to vaccines it is extremely important.”
“There are at least five types of meningococcus – recalls the expert – and, fortunately, today we have vaccines against all of them: a tetravalent one which contains four of them, i.e. the types characterized by the letters of the alphabet a, c, w, y and then a vaccine, instead, monovalent against type B meningococcus”. “It is clear that these vaccines must be given both in the very first months of life as regards type B meningococcus, within the second year of life as regards tetravalent meningococcus against a, c, w, y, while a second vaccination intervention is needed in adolescence, because – he explains – when social contacts increase, we have a whole series of places where young people meet and therefore it is essential to vaccinate them before this happens. it follows that the adolescent age is very important to carry out the first tetravalent or monovalent vaccination against type B meningococcus in all those subjects who have not been vaccinated at birth. In the event that vaccination has been carried out at birth, it is It is important to repeat a second vaccination, precisely to ensure that protection lasts at least until those age groups in which it is essential to prevent these diseases, which in some cases are even fatal”, he concludes.
“The respiratory syncytial virus is little known – continues Icardi – in the sense that in the general population we do not have the exact awareness of the damage it can cause. We can compare it to other viruses that have a seasonality, such as the flu ones that every year create an excess of deaths, from 4 to 8 thousand more deaths than expected. Therefore, the syncytial virus constitutes not only a health problem but also a socio-health problem, precisely because of the impact it has in terms of the population. For this reason it is clear that Vaccine research and primary prevention are extremely important.”
“2023 – continued Icardi – is certainly an important year, as for the first time we also have in Europe, after the authorization in the United States last May, two vaccines against the respiratory syncytial virus approved and also an antibody that can be used in the very first months of life to provide prophylaxis for newborns. The two vaccines are currently approved and can be used according to the technical data sheet, specifically for the population over 60 years of age, therefore the fragile population, even if it is difficult to give a degree of fragility “.
“Advancing age – continues the expert – is already half a disease, as our system tends to age and our immune system also ages. Therefore, when we are attacked by microorganisms, we are more subject to complications and hospitalizations hospitals, the history of the recent pandemic reminded us of this, where vulnerable and fragile subjects were those easily affected. Therefore, the fact of having two vaccines to be used one or the other to combat this disease and its related complications which, I repeat, are pathologies of the lower respiratory tract, such as pneumonia or bronchopneumonia, is extremely important to try to improve the tranquility of our most fragile subjects”, concludes Icardi.