Italy Begins to Enforce 'No Vaccine, No School' Policy After Deadline Expires
Italian schools have begun turning away children who have not received mandatory vaccinations after a temporary waiver expired, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, with at least 300 children told they could not attend kindergarten in the city of Bologna this week.
A 2017 law mandated children enrolled in Italian schools receive 10 different vaccines, the Times wrote, in “response to a worrisome decline in vaccinations nationwide and a measles outbreak that same year.” However, last year the Health Ministry—headed by a member of the Five Star Movement political party, whose co-founder the paper noted has brought up conspiracy theories linking vaccination to autism—issued a temporary rule allowing parents to simply state the children had been vaccinated rather than receiving a note from a doctor. The waiver was heavily criticized by the scientific and medical community, which said it could reverse progress made in boosting Italy’s vaccination rates in recent years.
“Italy’s measles vaccine coverage was par with Namibia, lower than Ghana,” San Raffaele University in Milan microbiology and virology professor Roberto Burioni told CNN last year. “But the law was working, the coverage was improving. We should strengthen it, not weaken it.”