Italy closes its school doors on unvaccinated children in the wake of the growing anti-vaccination movement and the measles outbreak that hit Europe.
With the expiration of a temporary measure allowing students without a medical certification of their vaccinations to attend school, stricter measures are being enforced under the new Lorenzin law.
New York Times reports that around 300 children have already been turned away from kindergarten in the city of Bologna, Italy. More children are reported to have been affected all over the country.
Parents who send their unvaccinated children to school will be fined up to $560 (€500), according to BBC.
The Lorenzin Law
Introduced in 2017, the Lorenzin law requires parents to give their children 10 different vaccines so they can attend Italian schools.
Under this law, parents will need to provide proper medical documentation that their child is vaccinated. A child under 6 will not be allowed into the school. Children between the ages of 6 to 16 will not be banned from school, but parents will be fined if they cannot provide proof of their vaccinations.
Last year, the Health Ministry issued a temporary measure allowing students to stay in school provided their parents attest they have their mandatory vaccinations. No official documentation or doctor's notes are necessary under this measure.
The more relaxed law expired on March 10 and Italy is once again implementing the stricter Lorenzin law requiring parents to show official documentation of their children's vaccinations.
"Now everyone has had time to catch up." Giulia Grillo, Health Minister explains to La Repubblica, referring not just to the parents who need to get their children vaccinated, but also the government who are fixing the bureaucratic issues surrounding the law's implementation.
Europe's Measles Outbreak
In 2018, coinciding with the Italy's temporary measure, Europe saw a measles outbreak that affected 82,596 people and killed 72 throughout the continent. Ninety-two percent of the recorded measles cases are from just 10 countries, one of which is Italy.
Vaccination is one of the most efficient ways to ensure individual and public health, despite the misinformation and false coverage, according to the World Health Organization.
The Lorenzin law is being implemented with the goal of getting more people in Italy vaccinated and decreasing the risk of another outbreak endangering citizen lives. It aims to raise the country's vaccination rates from below 80 percent to the WHO's target of at least 95 percent, BBC reports.
"All children have the right to go to class, but I am sure that parents will understand that everyone's health is the highest good, as well as a constitutional right, and we have a duty to do everything possible to guarantee it in a universal way, especially to immunosuppressed children and those who cannot be vaccinated because they have some illness," Grillo says in a statement released on Facebook.