Italy bans unvaccinated children from school amid measles epidemic

Children turned away as new law comes into effect

Toyin Owoseje
Tuesday 12 March 2019 17:26
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The number of children in the US who are not vaccinated against preventable diseases such as measles has quadrupled since 2001
The number of children in the US who are not vaccinated against preventable diseases such as measles has quadrupled since 2001

Italian parents could face hefty fines and see their children banned from school if they can’t prove their kids are properly vaccinated.

The new so-called Lorenzin law, designed to combat the rise in measles cases and the plummeting rates of children getting immunisations, came into force across the country on Tuesday.

Under the new policy, children under six can be turned away from nursery schools if they have not been vaccinated against common infectious diseases including chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.

Older children aged between six and 16 cannot be banned from school, but their parents may still face fines if they do not get the right vaccines.

Parents risk receiving fines of up to €500 (£425).

According to the BBC, the local authority in Bologna has sent letters of suspension to the parents of some 300 children, and a total of 5,000 children do not have their vaccine documentation up to date.

Health Minister Giulia Grillo told La Repubblica newspaper: “Everyone has had time to catch up.”

Although former doctor Andrew Wakefield's link between the MMR vaccine and autism was discredited in the early 2000s, healthcare professionals in Italy are still trying to re-establish public confidence in vaccinations.

Recent data revealed that Italy is failing to meet the 95 per cent vaccination rate recommended by the World Health Organisation.

According to EU health officials, 165 measles cases were reported in January. In December 2018 76 cases of the preventable disease was reported.

Last month, an eight-year-old cancer survivor was unable to attend school in Rome because of the risk unvaccinated children pose to his comprised immune system.

After Five Star formed Italy's first coalition with the League in May 2018, it threatened to overturn the mandatory vaccination law before backing down.

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