Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children

Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children

The cabinet on Friday approved a decree reintroducing compulsory vaccinations for school admissions.

Parents would face large fines for sending non-vaccinated children to state childcare facilities or schools.

Vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and meningitis, which were previously only recommended, will now become mandatory, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.

"The lack of appropriate measures and the spread of unscientific behaviors and theories over the years, and especially in the last months, has caused a reduction in the protection level", he added.

The provision came amid strong controversy in the country over the safety and utility of vaccines, and a consequent, considerable decrease in vaccinations.

Italy has recorded almost three times as many measles cases so far this year than for all of 2016.

Her ministry blamed the spike on spurious health scares which resulted in the number of two-year-olds vaccinated against the common disease falling from over 90 per cent a few years ago to 85 per cent in 2015.

Health authorities have repeatedly warned against the risks of a rise in infectious diseases due to the drop in vaccinations. Over the years, such a move "has led to a coverage that is now significantly below 95 percent for the (four) vaccines compulsory so far", Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin told reporters. The world-wide anti-vaccination movement has been gaining traction in recent years, despite its theories being discredited by the scientific community.

The ruling parties accuse the opposition 5-Star movement for feeding the climate of fear over vaccines.

While acknowledging that vaccination had contributed to the victory over some of the world's most serious and risky diseases, Grillo said that they still "bring a risk associated with side-effects" and are aiding pharmaceutical companies across the world.

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

Like this: