The Italian government ruled this week that children must receive 12 vaccinations against common illnesses prior to them being able to enroll in schools that are operated by the state.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni placed blame on the decrease in overall vaccinations on the spreading of anti-scientific theories.
Since the start of 2017, Italy has had close to three times the number of measles cases that it had for all of last year.
If children do not receive their vaccinations before the age of six, the age for starting school, then their parents will be given a fine.
Theories over the possible health risks for some vaccinations, largely based upon one paper that has since been discredited, have been circulating worldwide, leading to several parents to shun any immunizations, said government officials.
The number of children who are 2-year old in Italy that have been vaccinated against measles dropped from over 90% to less than 80%. That percentage is far short of the recommended coverage of the World Health Organization of 95% or higher.
Measles is very contagious and in a worst case scenario could cause death.
The Italian Prime Minister said that over the years the lack of appropriate measures coupled with the spread of theories against vaccines, especially the past few years, had lowered the protection percentage in Italy.
The twelve illnesses that children must by immunized against include polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B, meningitis B, meningitis C, hemophilic influenza B, measles, rubella, mumps, chickenpox and whooping cough.
Beatrice Lorenzin the Health Minister of Italy said the new measure sends a strong message to the people of Italy.
Over the past few years, a group of people opposed to vaccinations, known as anti-vaxers, has persuaded people to opt out of receiving vaccinations through citing risks, said the minister.
Andrew Wakefield wrote a paper that was long ago discredited that was behind much of the immunization scare but the rumors over immunizations have remained and have spread even more and health officials say that has created public health risks as there are not a sufficient number of people immune to the different diseases.
Wakefield in his paper claimed there was a link between bowel disease and autism in children and the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine known as MMR.
Wakefield’s claim was based upon experiences of only 12 children and not a single study since that time has replicated the author’s results.
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