Italy has once again banned unvaccinated kids from its public schools, ending a relaxed vaccination rule that was previously imposed.
We wrote about Italy’s law in 2017, when they cited the problem with “anti-scientific theories” as justification for making 10 vaccines mandatory, but standards were later weakened. Now the law is back in full force and about 300 children in Bologna, Italy couldn’t attend kindergarten this week as a result.
Dozens of other children across Italy were also likely to be affected, said Mario Rusconi, president of the Association of Head Teachers and Senior Staff in Lazio, Rome’s region.
A 2017 law made 10 vaccines obligatory for children who enrolled in Italian schools, a response to a worrisome decline in vaccinations nationwide and a measles outbreak that same year.
But last year, the Health Ministry, headed by a member of the Five Star Movement, one of the parties in the coalition government, adopted a temporary measure to allow children to stay in school as long as their parents attested they had been vaccinated. A doctor’s note was not needed.
That measure expired on March 10, and the 2017 law now applies again.
Under the reactivated vaccine law, the youngest kids won’t be allowed to attend school at all while they’re unvaccinated. For older students, there is a fine.
It’s a wise move for public health, and it protects the youngest and most vulnerable members of society in Italy.
Parents risk being fined up to €500 (£425; $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Children under six can be turned away.
The new law came amid a surge in measles cases — but Italian officials say vaccination rates have improved since it was introduced.
Under Italy’s so-called Lorenzin law — named after the former health minister who introduced it — children must receive a range of mandatory immunisations before attending school. They include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.
The new law was passed to raise Italy’s plummeting vaccination rates from below 80% to the World Health Organisation’s 95% target.
On Monday — the last day for parents to provide documentation proving their children had been properly vaccinated — the Italian health authority released figures claiming a national immunisation rate at or very close to 95% for children born in 2015, depending on which vaccine was being discussed.
In other words, making certain vaccines mandatory for school attendance has worked. As a result, fewer people will die.
Anti-vaxxers will, of course, try to say that the country is punishing the students by overriding their parents’ wishes, but the fact is this is for their protection as much as anyone else’s. All they have to do is get their kids their shots, and they will be welcomed back with open arms.
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