The Italian cabinet seems eager to ensure that the country doesn’t suffer from another preventable outbreak due to misinformation.
On May 19, the Council of Ministers approved a new law that requires parents to vaccinate their school-aged children against 12 common diseases starting next week.
This is a bold response to those who are against vaccination but it’s not really that surprising since Italy is home to the healthiest people in the world for its great health and preventive care services.
Mandatory Vaccination Law
The new law requires children to be vaccinated against MMR, as well as chicken pox, diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, tetanus, and whooping cough.
Without the proof of vaccination, children up to 6 years old will not be eligible to get into state-run and private child care institutions, nursery, and elementary schools. The proof of vaccination is also required to enroll in schools each year.
Of course, the government cannot completely control parents. However, those who refuse to follow the law or purposely defer having their children vaccinated will face hefty fines. Parents and guardians found guilty of not vaccinating their children will be fined €500 to €7,500 or about $560 to $8,400, as well as reported to the Juvenile Court to suspend parental authority.
“We are sending a very strong message to the public,” Italy’s health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said.
Misinformation Led To The Outbreak
The new law is an aggressive response to the recent measles outbreak which reached a staggering record of 2,395 cases in 2017-as of writing. Compared to that, there were 840 reported cases in the whole of 2016 and 250 in 2015.
“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 expressed.
There was also a political conflict surrounding the ruling since the 5-Star Movement — the political party which runs Rome’s city hall-decided to abstain from the vote.
Democratic party deputy Federico Gelli accused 5-Star of taking a very dangerous stance against vaccination because of their absitinence.
“5-Star is riding the wave of disinformation, nourishing fear and favouring a position that is anti-science and dangerous for the whole community,” Gelli said.
5-Star leader Paola Ferrara, however, denied Gelli’s accusation and acknowledged that vaccination is essential. She further explained that the party’s decision to abstain was only due to a pending vote in Parliament.