Italy is in the rear, among the 30 most developed countries on the planet, for vaccinations during pregnancy. Against pertussis, protective for the child, only 1.4% of pregnant women are vaccinated against 60% in the United States and 35% of the European average. While against the flu, for which future mothers have an increased risk of complications, even serious ones, it does not exceed 5%: in Lombardy it reaches 1.5%, in Trentino it is 14%.
Some regions have not even sent the data to the Higher Institute of Health. There are certainly good practices here and there but there is no standardized path and an adequate awareness of the risks – explains to Adnkronos Health Enrico Ferrazzi, head of the maternal and child area of the Italian Society of Gynecology (Sigo).
Italy, “despite having a good law on vaccinations since 2017, with the National Plan, is very backward in truly building a path ‘within pregnancy’ that makes pregnant women understand the value of vaccinations”, continues Ferrazzi recalling an episode that also changed his view of this problem.
For me, professionally, there was a turning point on this issue. When I saw a pregnant patient intubated in intensive care, just because she hadn’t been vaccinated against the flu. We can have a scientific culture, be very informed but when all this becomes flesh and blood, human pain and drama, things take on a more concrete aspect
For this reason, the scientific societies that deal with the topic from various points of view – health of the child, mother and fetus – have written down, at the beginning of this year, the guidelines for vaccinations in pregnancy and now they aim to create a ‘network’ of 8 scientific societies “to transform the good law that our country has into good practices”, Ferrazzi points out.
The goal is to activate at various levels – from obstetricians, to gynecologists, to more complex structures – a mechanism of information. “The pregnant woman wants to help her child. And when she understands that the vaccination is based on a natural protective mechanism, the answer is always essentially positive. Vaccination today, in fact, explains the expert,” does what it does. nature has always done. The human placenta carries antibodies to the baby. But today some infections are rarer and the mother does not necessarily pass them on. Vaccination serves to restore the protection that nature has always given for thousands of years “.
“There whooping cough – reminds Adnkronos Salute Andrea Dotta, president of the Lazio regional section of the Italian Society of Neonatology (Sin) – it is not a trivial disease. Especially with regard to newborns and infants under one year of life, all the numbers prove it. More than 60% of children with whooping cough are less than 12 months old. Consider that in these children, especially those less than 3 months old, who have not yet been able to get active vaccination, given their age, the risk of death is 1%. We are talking about enormous numbers, if not in absolute value in the severity of the risk of the disease. For us pediatricians, neonatologists, having hospitalized a child with whooping cough means a high risk, but also a defeat of the prevention system “.
For Alberto Villani president of the Italian Society of Pediatrics (Sip) “vaccination in pregnancy for whooping cough is very important and the role of the pediatrician is of great support and help precisely because the pediatrician knows the disease and its serious dangers. Our role is that of a highly motivated professional, who can ensure that the mother can really benefit from a comparison from those who know the pathology and can explain the importance of doing it “.
The pediatrician can come into contact with future mothers, even those with their first child, “through the courses to prepare for childbirth”. On the territory and in the hospital, moreover, Villani continues, “there is no lack of opportunities for contact and, like Sip, we have produced posters to put in vaccination centers, local health authorities, emergency rooms and pediatricians’ offices”. “Pregnancy is a special moment in a woman’s life – recalls Pier Luigi Lopalco, professor of Hygiene at the University of Pisa – a moment in which the future mother does everything to protect her baby: she tries to eat well, she stops smoking, it moves. But often he does not know that he can do even more, that is to get vaccinated to provide the newborn with protection against important infectious diseases, such as the flu and whooping cough. However, it is important to communicate all this well to women. dispelling myths and fears “.
Michele Conversano, past president of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health (Siti), underlines, in addition to the need to inform mothers, also the importance of building organizational models capable of reaching as many women as possible. To do this, he explains, “it is important to start working already in the pre-birth courses”, only with “a synergistic action between gynecologists, obstetricians, hygienists and vaccination centers can it work. Improve vaccination culture in pregnancy among scientific societies it is already helping us a lot “.