GIOVENTU » 12 mandatory vaccines for school children

12 mandatory vaccines for school children

The Italian government has made 12 vaccines mandatory for children attending school up to age 16 in an effort to combat what it described as misinformation about vaccines. An intense public debate over children’s vaccinations has characterised the last months of the Italian political scene. The populist 5-Star movement was accused of having emboldened anti-vaccine advocates. The new regulation came as an answer to the measles outbreak, this year, which has recorded three times more than the measles cases in 2016. In Italy, at present, the number of two-year-olds vaccinated against measles has dropped from more than 90% to below 80%. This is well short of the World Health Organization's recommended coverage of 95% or more.

The twelve conditions children must be immunised against are: polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae B, meningitis B, meningitis C, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and chickenpox. Children will not be accepted into nursery or pre-schools without proof of vaccinations, while parents of children legally obliged to attend school will face hefty fines for noncompliance. The certification will be required every year.

The origin of the vaccination scare in the UK is in a long-discredited paper by Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off the UK medical register after fraudulently claiming there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism and bowel disease in children.

It was shown that the doctor made the claim based on the experiences of just 12 children, and no other study since has been able to replicate his results.

In 2012, in Italy a court in Rimini awarded damages to the family of a boy with autism, who claimed his condition had been caused by the vaccine. Three years later, the decision was overturned on appeal. In 2015, Beppe Grillo, the M5S founder wrote that vaccinations are a gift for multinational pharmaceutical firms and present a risk associated with side-effects.

The vaccines imposition can be seen as another sign of a break of the bond of trust between citizens and politics. Reassurance from the government is not enough for disheartened people who don’t even believe in science anymore.

On the contrary, as the “Mail online” reported, the British Medical Association has published a report on childhood immunisation, on the eve of its annual conference, in which the idea of compulsory immunisation for children was rejected. The report stresses that vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect children from infectious disease and parents should therefore be encouraged to choose immunisation for their children. However, The British Medical Association stated that the doctor-patient relationship is based on trust, choice and openness and they think introducing compulsory vaccination may be harmful to this bond of trust. 

Giulia Lombardo

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