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Preventive healthcare measures

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Vaccinations

The National Health Service provides 10 mandatory vaccinations for minors aged between 0 and 16 years and for unaccompanied foreign minors (Decree Law No 73 of 7 June 2017 , amended by Conversion Law No 119 of 31 July 2017):

  • polio
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • hepatitis B
  • pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • measles
  • rubella
  • mumps
  • chicken pox.

The mandatory status of measles, rubella, mumps and chicken pox vaccinations is subject to review every 3 years on the basis of epidemiological data and vaccine coverage achieved.

The mandatory vaccinations are free and must be provided on the basis of the immunisation schedule, please contact your local health authority.

Recommended vaccinations provided in accordance with the vaccination calendar and ministerial provisions, such as ’flu vaccination, HPV vaccination, etc., are also free.

For more information: Vaccinations by age, category and condition

School and vaccinations

To enrol your children in crèches and nursery schools in Italy, irrespective of their nationality or habitual residence, you must first have them immunised at least with the mandatory vaccinations (Decree Law No 73 of 7 June 2017, amended by Conversion Law No 119 of 31 July 2017). However, you can enrol children and young people from primary (elementary) school onwards, but if the obligations have not been fulfilled, the local health authority will implement a vaccination catch-up programme and you could incur an administrative fine of EUR 100 to EUR 500.

Exemptions from mandatory vaccination programmes apply for children and young people who already have natural immunity following illness and children with specific clinical conditions that represent a permanent and/or temporary contraindication to vaccinations, according to the information provided in the most recent version of the Guida alle controindicazioni alle vaccinazioni (‘Guide to contraindications to vaccination’).

To find out more, please go to the page Scuola e vaccini: circolari operative (School and vaccines: operational circulars)

Oncology screening

There are three active oncology screening programmes:

The activities and development of the screening programmes are monitored through data sent by each regional programme to the National Screening Monitoring Centre (ONS).

If you are a citizen of screening age, depending on the procedures in place for the programme in the region where you live, you will receive a letter or phone call inviting you to undergo the test, indicating the associated procedures, times and places, and you will have the option of signing up for these programmes.

Breast cancer screening

If you are woman aged between 50 and 69, screening is performed by means of a mammogram every 2 years.

In some regions, efficacy in a wider age band is being trialled, between 45 and 74 (once a year for women aged under 50).

Cervical cancer screening

If you are a woman aged between 25 and 64, you will be offered a cervical smear test every 3 years.

This makes it possible to identify very early cancerous lesions.

It involves taking a sample of a small quantity of cells from the cervix, which are then analysed. If there are no anomalies, you can repeat the test 3 years later. If anomalies are detected, you will be invited to undergo further testing.

Given the role of certain types of HPV virus (high-risk) in the development of cervical cancer, the regions have recently been invited to introduce HPV tests as first-level tests in cervical screening.

The new screening test is based on analysis for high-risk HPV infection. The sampling process is similar to a cervical smear test. The test must be performed from 30 years of age and repeated at intervals of not less than 5 years. If the HPV test is positive you will need to undergo a cervical smear test and possibly further tests.

Colorectal cancer screening

If you are aged between 50 and 69, you can undergo screening to prevent colorectal cancer. Almost all testing programmes use faecal occult blood testing, to be performed every 2 years.

Faecal occult blood testing involves collecting (at home) a small sample of faeces that is then analysed in the laboratory to find any traces of blood not visible to the naked eye. Further clinical tests are required if any traces of blood are found.

Some of the screening programmes active in Italy (in particular in the Piedmont region) use another screening test, rectosigmoidoscopy performed once at an age of 58-60 years.

Neonatal screening

In Italy, the new Essential Levels of Care (Livelli essenziali di assistenzaLEA) guarantee all newborns the necessary and appropriate measures for early diagnosis of the congenital diseases provided for by current legislation and good clinical practice, including those for the early diagnosis of congenital hearing loss and congenital cataracts, and those for the early diagnosis of hereditary metabolic diseases.

These are important prevention measures that are free and must be offered.

Neonatal screening involves non-invasive testing that makes it possible to ensure early identification of various congenital diseases that, if not diagnosed and treated quickly, can cause intellectual disability and/or growth retardation, serious permanent damage and in some cases death.

The test is a right for all newborns, is performed on several drops of blood taken from the newborn’s heel and placed on a special card, and takes place between 48 and 72 hours after birth in the maternity unit before the child leaves the hospital.

In Italy, blood-spot neonatal screening has been free and compulsory since 1992 for three conditions: congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria (Law No 104 of 5 February 1992 ). Mandatory neonatal screening (SNE) has since been extended to cover around 40 hereditary metabolic diseases, and has been included in the new LEA (Law No 167 of 19 August 2016 ).

Relevant legislation

Vaccinations:

Neonatal screening:



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Last update 11 december 2020



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