Italy’s cabinet approved a law Friday, May 19 making vaccinations mandatory for children up to the age of six against infectious diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, and meningitis, according to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Previously, these were only recommended.
Vaccines against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, whopping cough, and haemophilia B will also be obliged by the law.
Without the vaccinations, children won’t be eligible to enrol in primary school, and those sent to higher levels of education without the vaccines will face fines.
“The lack of appropriate measures over the years and the spread of anti-scientific theories, especially in recent months, has brought about a reduction in protection.”
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, in a news conference
The law comes after Italy’s Higher Health Institute warned that a drop in vaccination led to a measles epidemic. According to the Institute, there have been at least 2,395 measles cases so far this year compared with 840 in all of 2016 and 250 throughout 2015.
Gentiloni’s center-left government has accused the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement party of creating fear among parents by questioning the safety of some vaccines and creating hesitation towards multinational pharmaceutical companies.
5-Star members, who rule over the city of Rome, abstained on May 18 from a vote making vaccination of children mandatory in Italy’s capital city. However, the party’s leader in Rome’s city hall claimed that the motion was made because of the vote in parliament.