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Medicina dello Sport 2018 December;71(4):552-60

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.18.03437-3


language: English, Italian

Influenza vaccination campaigns among elite athletes of major Italian soccer Leagues (Serie A and Serie B)

Carlo SIGNORELLI 1, 2 , Anna ODONE 1, Luigi VEZZOSI 2, 3, Alessia MIDURI 3, Matteo RICCÒ 4, Paola CELLA 3, Roberta ZONI 3, Pasquale TAMBURRINO 5, Armando GOZZINI 5

1 School of Medicine, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; 2 Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy; 3 Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli,” Naples, Italy; 4 Azienda USL-IRCCS of Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy; 5 Libera Associazione Medici Italiani Calcio - L.A.M.I.C.A., Formia, Latina, Italy


BACKGROUND: Team sports’ elite athletes are considered at-risk group for influenza; not only they are at higher risk of flu transmission as compared to the general population, but also this infection and its complications can negatively impact on their performances. Evidence on influenza immunization practice in soccer teams is scant.
METHODS: We conducted a survey among Italian Serie A and Serie B soccer teams to explore practices and attitudes towards seasonal influenza vaccination, and other immunization programs, as well as to assess influenza vaccine coverage rates. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to the head of medical staff of all 20 Serie A and 22 Serie B teams.
RESULTS: Response rate was 100%. Overall, 75% of Serie A and 82% of Serie B teams reported to organize seasonal influenza flu vaccine campaigns, among which vaccination coverage was on average 44.4% for Serie A and 35.7% for Serie B; only in three Serie A teams vaccine coverage reached the 75% target. Characteristics of immunization programs in terms of: type of active call, type of vaccine, immunization timing and staff involved vary between different teams.
CONCLUSIONS: Influenza immunization practice and uptake among professional soccer players is suboptimal in Italy. It is important to raise awareness on the importance of actively promote immunization within soccer teams, both as a form of individual and social protection against influenza, as well as, considering the role model that soccer players have within the general population.

KEY WORDS: Influenza - Vaccination - Athletes - Soccer - Italy

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