Parents sending unimmunised children to school despite warnings

Desiree Burns
March 14, 2019

Children can not attend nursery schools unless they are vaccinated, and parents of elementary and middle school pupils risk fines of up to 500 euros if they don't have doctor's notes showing that their children were vaccinated against the required diseases. The list of 10 vaccines includes polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella.

However, previous 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.

In British Columbia, which is now experiencing a small measles outbreak, parents started a petition calling for mandatory vaccinations to attend school. Students of that age reportedly can't be barred from classes. Health authorities set a deadline of Monday to get the immunization certification.

The city of Bologna reportedly has at least 300 children who now do not comply with the vaccination requirements and are at risk of suspension from school.

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According to the BBC, the local authority in Bologna has already sent letters of suspension to the parents of approximately 300 kindergarten children and around 5,000 don't have up-to-date vaccination documentation. With rates below 80 percent, the country lags far behind the World Health Organization's 95 percent target. When the current coalition came to power, it said it would drop mandatory immunisations although it later reversed its position.

A long-discredited paper by Andrew Wakefield was behind much of the scare, but rumours around immunisation have continued to spread, leading to public health risks as not enough people are immune to such diseases.

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

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