BACKGROUND: Seasonal influenza generates serious health and economic losses. In the last influenza season, the report of three deaths originally blamed on the Fluad vaccine drew widespread attention from the media and is likely to have had a major negative impact on vaccine uptake. OBJECTIVE: We quantitatively analyzed media coverage on influenza and immunization-related topics on all published issues of the Italian newspaper ranking first in circulation, over one year. DESIGN: We retrieved relevant key words and articles, reporting on article topic, length, position, and approach to immunization, and on other selected indicators' summary statistics, trends, and correspondence with key events. RESULTS: Selected key words were retrieved 798 times over the study period, 34% specifically focusing on influenza. The average number of influenza-related key words per issue was 96%higher in the four-day «uncertainty» period from when the deaths were first reported to the release of the test results disproving any causal association between the deaths and the vaccine (time frame #1), as compared to the whole study period. Ninety relevant articles were included in the analysis, 51%focusing on influenza, the average number/issue being 97%higher during time frame #1. During time frame #1, articles were also longer and located in the main sections of the newspapers. No articles were published at the launch of the seasonal influenza immunization campaign. CONCLUSION: We propose an analytic model of media monitoring that could be effectively applied to support health authorities and representatives of the scientific community in conveying health education messages through the media.
Influenza and immunization: a quantitative study of media coverage in the season of the «Fluad case» / Odone, A.; Chiesa, V.; Ciorba, V.; Cella, P.; Pasquarella, C.; Signorelli, C.. - In: EPIDEMIOLOGIA E PREVENZIONE. - ISSN 1120-9763. - 39:4 Suppl 1(2015), pp. 139-145.
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