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Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children

20 Mai 2017

If children are not vaccinated by the age of six, the school starting age, their parents will be fined.

The Italian cabinet on Friday approved a decree to make vaccines compulsory for all for all school starters.

Premier Paolo Gentiloni told a news conference that the new rules aimed to combat "anti-scientific theories" that have lowered Italy's vaccination rates in recent years.

In addition to four already compulsory vaccinations, for polio, diphtheria, hepatitis B and whooping cough, the new law now also covers vaccination against measles and meningitis, diseases that have recently seen a dramatic spike in Italy, prompting the United States to issue a travel warning for Italy.

The country's health institute recorded 2,395 cases of measles so far this year, which is a stark increase to the 840 recorded in all of 2016, and 250 in 2015.

"We are sending a very strong message to the public", said Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin.

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While acknowledging that vaccination had contributed to the victory over some of the world's most serious and risky diseases, Grillo said that they still "bring a risk associated with side-effects" and are aiding pharmaceutical companies across the world.

The new infections were quite homogeneously distributed across Italian regions, and 89 percent of the cases involved non-vaccinated people, the institute said.

Mr Wakefield was struck off the United Kingdom medical register after fraudulently claiming there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism and bowel disease in children.

Gentiloni's centre-left government has accused the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of sowing fear among parents by questioning the safety of some vaccines and the scruples of multinational pharmaceutical firms.

"5-Star is riding the wave of disinformation, nourishing fear and favoring a position that is anti-science and risky for the whole community", said Federico Gelli, a deputy from the ruling Democratic Party.

Italy makes 12 vaccines mandatory for school-age children