Background: Vaccines simulate the first contact with infectious agents and evoke the immunological response without causing the disease and its complications. High rates of immunization among the population guarantee the interruption of the transmission chain of infectious diseases. Therefore, the population should be aware of the value of vaccination and motivated. In order to implement the spread of a correct culture about these issues, schools were recognized as a privileged operational setting. The aim of this project was to transmit knowledge and convey educational messages on the importance of vaccines, through the use of games, in elementary school children, their families and teachers.
Materials and methods: A field trial study was implemented between April and October 2019. Sample size calculations highlighted the need to recruit at least 136 students in the schools. The intervention involved 10 classes (five first grade and five s grade classes) and was structured in frontal teaching sessions and gaming sessions. Knowledge was assessed comparing the results of a questionnaire administered before and after the intervention. The questionnaires referred to the following items: dangerousness of bacteria and viruses; capability of defending from microorganisms; the role of antibodies; functioning of the vaccine in a child; type of disease for which a vaccine is efficacious; duration of a vaccine; mother- child transmission of antibodies; herd immunity.
Results: 143 children participated in all the phases of the study. The comparison between the scores at the beginning and end of the intervention showed a significant increase in the knowledge about vaccines and immunity. The mean knowledge score arose from 3.52 (SD = 1.67) to 5.97 (SD = 1.81).
Conclusions: This study suggests that the use of games in an elementary school effectively increase the knowledge related to the important topic of vaccination starting at childhood.
Keywords: field trial; game; primary prevention; school; vaccination.