Italy changes laws over unvaccinated children attending school

Those aged between six and 16 can not be banned from attending school, but their parents face fines if they do not complete the mandatory course of immunisations.

New data from Italy's health ministry suggests that the laws are making a difference, with 94 per cent of children having at least one dose of the measles vaccine in June 2018, up two per cent in just six months as parents may have vaccinated their children in anticipation of the new requirements.

Italian children have been told not to turn up for school or preschool if they are not vaccinated. The waiver was heavily criticised by the scientific and medical community, which said it could reverse progress made in boosting Italy's vaccination rates in recent years.

"Italy's measles vaccine coverage was par with Namibia, lower than Ghana", commented Roberto Burioni, a professor of microbiology and virology at San Raffaele University in Milan.

The law, passed in 2017 by a previous government, requires children to be vaccinated against 10 diseases in order to attend daycare and nursery school.

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.

Parents are now facing fines if their unvaccinated children attend school.

The deadline for parents to provide proof of vaccination was on Monday, according to news reports.

"Now everyone has had time to catch up", Health Minister Giulia Grillo told Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the BBC reported.

The new rules came into force on Tuesday and are part of the so-called "Lorenzin law", named after former Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin.

Across the world, health authorities are grappling with a global resurgence of measles, with record numbers recorded in Europe and deadly outbreaks in the Philippines and Madagascar.

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