OBJECTIVES: The increasingly widespread use of the Internet by the population to collect information regarding health and medical treatments and the circulation of many non-scientific documents on the effectiveness and safety of vaccines has led the Italian Society of Hygiene (SItI), in 2013, to promote a portal to provide scientific information that is verified and easily understood to counteract the rampant misinformation on health treatments and combat the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy. METHODS: The project was launched in May 2013 and provides a portal with six main sections (vaccine preventable diseases, registered vaccines, benefits and risks of vaccination, against misinformation, pros & cons and travel immunizations) and other headings that relate to scientific events, comics and news coverage concerning vaccines. The contents are validated and evaluated by a scientific committee of high profile scientists and experts in computer-mediated communication. RESULTS: In the first two years of activity, the portal has published more than 250 web pages on all aspects related to vaccinations. The number of individual users was 860,411, with a constant increase over time. Of these, about 21.7% returned to the website at least once. The total visits in 24 months were 1,099,670, with a total page count of 2,530,416. The frequency of contact was almost exclusively Italian (95.6%), with a higher proportion of males (54.1%) and younger age groups (25-34 years, 33.5%, and1 8-24 years, 27.5%). The data also show a significant position of the website in the major web search engines. The website has been certified by the Health On the Net Foundation. It is connected with the main social networks and it has recently opened its first regional section (Veneto). CONCLUSIONS: The strong, progressive increase in web contacts, the involvement of several institutional bodies, and the appreciation of various stakeholders give an absolutely positive assessment of the first two years of the VaccinarSì project. The success of the website suggests future developments, with updates, sections devoted to regional problems, in-depth news analysis, and international expansion. The authors conclude that initiatives like this are to be implemented and constitute an effective way to counteract vaccine hesitancy.
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