Italy bans unvaccinated children from attending school

Concerned over the outbreak of diseases, Italy is refusing unvaccinated children from attending school.

Parents have been asked to ensure their children have been administered compulsory vaccines or risk being fined up to 560 U.S. dollars.  

A surge in the number of measles cases and plummeting immunization rate in the country forced the government to initiate strict measures. 

A policy named after former health minister, the Lorenzin law, makes it compulsory for children under six to get a range of immunizations before attending school. The list of 10 vaccines includes polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella.

The new law also requires children to show proof of vaccination to attend classes. Health authorities set a deadline of Monday to get the immunization certification. 

Cracking down on parents unable to produce the documents, Bologna, the largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy, barred more than 300 children failing to present immunization records, from attending school. 

Estimates suggest immunization records of nearly 5,000 children is still not been updated. Italy's health minister, Giulia Grillo told La Repubblica newspaper that people were given ample time to get their ward's vaccinated and update the immunization records. 

‘Herd immunity at risk'

With a large number of people joining the anti-vaccination movement, risk of infectious disease outbreak has increased many folds. 

The country's immunization rate dropped to below 80 percent against the World Health Organization's (WHO) requirement of 95 percent. Such a low rate adversely affects herd immunity that prevents the spread of infection. 

There is a high probability of virus spread among unvaccinated people when a small percentage of the population is vaccinated. For a robust herd immunity, 19 out of 20 people should get immunization shots. 

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) study after a major measles outbreak in the country in 2017 found that nearly 89 percent of cases were reported among unvaccinated people. 

The outbreak prompted the government to formulate tough laws. Cases of measles in Italy accounted for nearly a quarter of all measles cases in Europe last year, the WHO said.  

(Top Image: A protester campaigning against compulsory vaccination in Piazza Montecitorio during the final vote of Decree Law on Vaccines at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome, Italy, July 28, 2017. /VCG Photo)