Following a hotly contested public debate, the Italian parliament has given final approval to a law mandating full compliance with government-sanctioned vaccines for all school children in Italy up to 16 years of age.
Under the new ruling, small children without the proper documentation will be denied access to preschool, and parents of children legally required to attend school could face fines of up to €500 (about $590).1 Before the law was passed, there were reports the fines could reach approximately €7,094 ($8,380) and that repeat offenders may face the possibility of losing custody of their children.2
The vaccine mandates, which were signed into law on July 28, 2017 by a vote of 296 to 92, include requirements for vaccination against measles, rubella, chickenpox, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and hepatitis B and are expected to be implemented beginning in September 2017.3 The original list included 12 vaccines, but meningococcal B and meningococcal C were dropped from the final law.4
According to Italian government reports, the ruling is meant to offset what it calls “misinformation about vaccines,” which government sources say has led to a decline in Italy’s vaccination rate in the 20 years since the repeal of school vaccination mandates. The current vaccine mandates were first proposed following a measles outbreak that prompted a travel warning by the U.S. and amid a public scandal involving a nurse who had claimed to be vaccinating children for years but had not.5
Many people in Italy strongly disagree with the new law and an intense public debate has ensued, with tens of thousands of Italians taking to the streets in cities throughout the country to protest what they believe is government overreach and a violation of their informed consent rights.6
1 Associated Press. Italy to Make all Childhood Vaccinations Mandatory. Business Insider July 28, 2017.
2 Livesay C. Amid Measles Outbreak, Italy Makes Childhood Vaccinations Mandatory. NPR June 19, 2017.
3 AP. Children in Italy Have to Be Vaccinated or They Can’t Go to School: Government. Global News July 28, 2017.
4 Barry C (AP). Italy Approves Hotly Contested Mandatory Vaccine Program. U.S. News & World Report July 28, 2017.
5 Italy Makes 12 Vaccines Mandatory for School-Age Children. U.S. News and Special Reports. May 19, 2017.
6 Fisher BL. Vaccine Freedom Marches Across Italy Highlight Global Vaccination Agenda. The Vaccine Reaction June 20, 2017.