Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 20, 2017

The country's cabinet approved the law on Friday, meaning children up to age six will now need to be immunized to attend school.

"The lack of appropriate measures over the years and the spread of anti-scientific theories, especially in recent months, has brought about a reduction in protection", Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told a news conference in Rome.

Italy has passed a law that will require parents to vaccinate their children before enrolling them in nursery school, with those refusing to comply subject to fines.

Paola Ferrara, 5-Star's leader in city hall, said the party had abstained because of the pending vote in parliament, and considered vaccinations "essential".

In addition to four already compulsory vaccinations, for polio, diphtheria, hepatitis B and whooping cough, the new law now also covers vaccination against measles and meningitis, diseases that have recently seen a dramatic spike in Italy, prompting the U.S. to issue a travel warning for Italy.

Italy's Higher Health Institute warned in April that a fall-off in vaccinations had led to a measles epidemic.

"We are sending a very strong message to the public", said Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. The figures stand in stark contrast to the numbers from 2015 and 2016, with some 250 and 840 cases, respectively.

The move came amid reticence on the part of the education ministry and objections from the opposition Five Star Movement, which says the reform amounts to a gift to pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Wakefield was struck off the United Kingdom medical register after fraudulently claiming there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism and bowel disease in children.

'5-Star is riding the wave of disinformation, nourishing fear and favouring a position that is anti-science and unsafe for the whole community, ' said Federico Gelli, a deputy from the ruling Democratic Party.

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