Thursday June 20, 2019

Child Vaccination Mandate Still Under The Confusion Reigns in Italy

According to a 2010 survey of 27 EU states, plus Norway and Iceland, 15 countries do not have any mandatory vaccinations; the other 14 have at least one

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A doctor injects vaccine into a patient's arm, in Rome, Italy, Feb. 23, 2018.
A doctor injects vaccine into a patient's arm, in Rome, Italy, Feb. 23, 2018. (VOA)

Italians are divided between those who think parents should have the right to decide whether to vaccinate their children and those who feel immunization programs must be decided by the government, which they believe has better access to information. Vaccine regulations differ widely across Europe, and the current situation in Italy is in limbo.

Italians enrolling their children in state-run nursery schools currently are uncertain if they need to provide evidence their children have had 10 vaccinations required by a law that came into effect in March. A week ago, the upper house of parliament voted through an amendment to remove that obligation. But to become law, it must also be approved by the lower house.

Parents have been told that for the time being they can simply provide a self-signed declaration that their children have been vaccinated. Many remain unclear whether their children will be allowed to go to school if they fail to provide a declaration or other evidence of the vaccinations.

A surge of more than 5,000 measles cases last year – the second largest outbreak in Europe – led the government run then by the Democratic Party to pass a bill requiring mandatory vaccinations. However, in the run-up to general elections this year, the 5-Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio and the League led by Matteo Salvini said they would do away with the law. Now in power, they appear to be keeping their promise

Speaking at a recent political rally near Florence, Salvini admitted he had vaccinated his own children and said that parents who have the best interests of their children at heart should be able to make that choice. He added that 10 vaccines are simply too many for some children and it is unthinkable that Italian children may not be able to enroll in school because they have not been vaccinated.

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Confusion Reigns in Italy Over Child Vaccination Mandate. VOA

Salvini said a state that requires 10 vaccines must also give parents the certainty that nothing will happen to their children through pre-vaccine tests, which today do not exist. There are 15 European countries, he added, that do not even have a single mandatory vaccine. Noting that Italy now has the most compulsory vaccinations of any country in Europe, Salvini expressed the concern that some multinational or pharmaceutical company may have chosen Italian children as a testing ground.

Italy’s health minister, Giulia Grillo, a doctor and a member of the 5-Star Movement, has made clear the government believes the right balance must be struck between the right to education and the right to health.

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Grillo said the 5-Star Movement is not opposed to vaccines and recognizes their importance and usefulness. She added that citizens need to be informed properly about vaccinations and that the National Health Service must provide support to parents and children before and after they are inoculated.

According to a 2010 survey of 27 EU states, plus Norway and Iceland, 15 countries do not have any mandatory vaccinations; the other 14 have at least one. The most common mandatory vaccine is against polio, followed by diphtheria and tetanus. (VOA)

Next Story

Italy: Anti-Migrant Populist Wins Big

Matteo Salvini was quick to thank Italians after results of Sunday’s vote in the European elections

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Italy, Anti-Migrant Populist
Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini arrives for a press conference at the League's headquarters, in Milan, Italy, May 27, 2019. VOA

The big winner in Italy’s vote in the European elections was Matteo Salvini’s anti-migrant League party which took one third of the Italian vote, strengthening his grip on government. His coalition partner, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement was the big loser. After just one year in government, the result turned around the balance of power between the two ruling parties but Salvini immediately pledged not to dissolve the ruling coalition.

Matteo Salvini was quick to thank Italians after results of Sunday’s vote in the European elections showed him ahead by far. His victory came as no surprise as his party quickly emerged as the undisputable winner and first party in Italy, garnering more than 34 percent of the vote. His coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement took half that.

It was a sensational result for a regional party that garnered just six percent of the votes in the last EU election five years ago. Salvini, before the vote, made it clear he would not change the existing coalition government, saying “my word is worth more than some votes.” He pledged to get back down to work immediately and not dissolve the ruling coalition or reshuffle the Italian government.

Luigi di Maio, leader of the 5-Star Movement issued a brief statement blaming his party’s poor showing on low voter turnout adding “now heads down and let’s work”. But voter turnout in Italy was only slightly down from the last EU elections.

Italy, Anti-Migrant Populist
The big winner in Italy’s vote in the European elections was Matteo Salvini’s anti-migrant League party. Pixabay

Speaking at the League headquarters in Milan during the night, Salvini said “a new Europe is born.”

He said, “Not only is Italy the first party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen is the first party in France, Nigel Farage is the first country in Britain. So, Italy, France, Britain: it’s a sign of a Europe that is changing.”

Salvini added that he was proud that “the League is taking part in this new European Renaissance.” With the League possibly obtaining the largest number of seats by a single party in the new European parliament, Salvini said his party would be pushing for an ‘economic’ portfolio — agriculture, competition or energy — for the next EU commissioner.

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But the Italian leader’s exultation is tempered by results elsewhere in Europe where populists made only modest gains. They won just under a quarter of seats in the European parliament – far lower than the the one third that nationalists on the continent had hoped to get. (VOA)