Italian parents are being warned not to send their kids to school without vaccinations, or face a €500 fine, while children under six can be turned away altogether.
Following months of debate over the issue of mandatory vaccines in Italy, the deadline has been reached for parents to prove their children have received mandatory immunisations before attending school. Parents must now show their kids have been inoculated against chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella or be subject to the fine or suspension.
The so-called ‘Lorenzin law’ requiring mandatory vaccinations was initially passed in 2017 following an outbreak of measles throughout Europe that got even worse the following year, but the deadline was suspended several times due to bureaucratic issues.
Authorities are striving to hit the World Health Organization’s recommended 95% inoculation rate for measles, with the current rate for children born since 2015 sitting just below the target at 94%.
Health Minister Giulia Grillo told La Repubblica newspaper that the repeated delays have given everyone plenty of time to “catch up,” reportedly resisting efforts by Prime Minister Matteo Salvini to further extend the deadline.
“No vaccine, no school,” she stated bluntly. “There is an epidemic in progress.”
Despite the strong words, Grillo also expressed the need to “convince citizens to do something positive for their health, not impose.”
Nonetheless, the government has already taken action against families found not in compliance with the new order. In Bologna, authorities reportedly suspended some 300 children for failure to provide up-to-date vaccination records. Two parents were reported to the government for falsely claiming their children had been vaccinated.
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Italy’s ruling coalition government that came into power last May initially expressed skepticism over the mandatory vaccination rule, and even threatened to overturn the law altogether. They eventually, however, backed down on the issue following pressure by experts and pro-vaccine petitions.