Published: Wed, March 13, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Italy changes laws over unvaccinated children attending school

Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove that they have been properly vaccinated.

Children under age six will be excluded from nursery and kindergarten without proof of vaccinations under the new law. The consequences for failing to comply with the legislation reportedly varies depending on how old the child is.

The mandatory vaccinations include chickenpox, polio, mumps, rubella, and - perhaps most crucially at this time - measles.

There have been protests over the law changes around vaccinations in Italy.

In Bologna, officials said the 300 children did not present the official document attesting to their vaccination on Monday, and so could not attend public nursery schools.

New data from Italy's health ministry suggests that the laws are making a difference, with 94 per cent of children having at least one dose of the measles vaccine in June 2018, up two per cent in just six months as parents may have vaccinated their children in anticipation of the new requirements.

"Now everyone has had time to catch up", Health Minister Giulia Grillo told Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the BBC reported.

But up until Tuesday, a temporary measure meant students could remain in school as long as their parents said they were vaccinated. The BBC added that Italian media reported regional authorities are "handling the situation in a number of different ways", with no notices of suspension reported in some areas and grace periods allowed in others. It threatened to overturn the mandatory vaccination law passed by the previous government but ended up scrapping its plans in the face of criticism as the country experienced a measles outbreak last summer.

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