Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children



Children who do not have compulsory vaccinations cannot be enrolled in kindergartens and public and private child schools.

Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said children will not be accepted into nursery or pre-schools without proof of vaccinations, while parents of children legally obliged to attend school will face hefty fines for noncompliance.

The move will "make compulsory certain vaccinations that until now were simply recommended", Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said after a cabinet meeting approved the legislative decree.

Earlier this week, Italy's National Health Institute reported 2,395 cases of measles between January 1 and May 14, against 390 cases registered in the first four months of 2016. The world-wide anti-vaccination movement has been gaining traction in recent years, despite its theories being discredited by the scientific community.

In Italy, the number of two-year-olds vaccinated against measles has dropped from more than 90% to below 80%.

"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 World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends aiming for coverage of 95 per cent to prevent unsafe outbreaks.

After the prolonged death of an unvaccinated young Australian woman earlier in 2017, Dr Eloise Williams wrote in a Medical Journal of Australia report: "Achieving whole-population vaccination is instrumental in preventing measles infections through the development of herd immunity".

In recent years a loose group of campaigners against vaccinations, dubbed the "anti-vax" movement, has dissuaded people from opting in to immunisations by citing supposed risks.

The law was proposed by the country's health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, who has always been campaigning for mandatory vaccination amid the growing popularity of the science-skeptic movement against it. Lorenzin previously urged the parents to "not be afraid", sharing a photo of her three-month-old twins getting vaccinated.

Claims vaccines cause conditions such as autism and bowel disease made in the 1990s have been proven to be fraudulent.

He made the claim based on the experiences of just 12 children, and no other study since has been able to replicate his results.