BACKGROUND: Surveillance for adverse events following immunization is an important component of any national immunization programme because it is critical to assessing the safety of vaccines and to detecting potentially rare and severe adverse events and responding in a timely manner. We conducted an enhanced active surveillance aimed at assessing the safety of flu vaccines in the 2015-2016 season in Italy. The study was targeted to the population groups for which the seasonal vaccine is recommended in Italy.
METHODS: During the study period, a total of 3213 individuals receiving seasonal influenza vaccination were registered on the web-based platform. Any adverse events experienced after 7 days from vaccination by individuals aged six months or more were collected through a telephone interview or by a web-based self-administered questionnaire. All individuals experiencing at least one event during the 7 days of follow-up were contacted for follow-up to 60 days.
RESULTS: Overall, 854 events were reported: 845 events (26%) after administration of the first dose and 9 (12%) after the second dose. The majority of adverse events reported after 7 days from the first dose were of little clinical importance, and most involved local symptoms.
CONCLUSION: Our data, even though the number of vaccinated individuals was smaller than expected, is consistent with the safety of influenza vaccines in Italy during the 2015-2016 season regarding the most common adverse events. Further efforts are needed to obtain sufficient power to study rarer adverse events. Active monitoring and systematic studies to test generated signals and hypotheses are crucial to intensify awareness among the public and professionals with regard to the safety of vaccines.