A 2017 law made 10 vaccines obligatory for children who enrolled in Italian schools, a response to a worrisome decline in vaccinations nationwide and a measles outbreak that same year.
But last year, the health ministry, headed by a member of the Five Star Movement, one of the parties in the coalition government, adopted a temporary measure to allow children to stay in school as long as their parents attested they had been vaccinated. A doctor’s note was not needed.
That measure expired March 10, and the 2017 law now applies again.
Children cannot 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.
In Bologna, officials said the 300 children did not present the official document attesting to their vaccination on Monday, and so could not attend public nursery schools. Exactly how many children across Italy were affected was not clear on Tuesday.
The government is working on a law to introduce a “flexible obligation,” which would require children to get vaccinated only if the so-called herd immunity, a sufficiently high proportion of individuals immune to the disease because of vaccination, was lacking. The details of the draft are unclear.
For years, confusion about vaccines has reigned in Italy. Newly released figures show that Italy is nearing, and in some regions has already reached, a national immunization rate of 95%, the World Health Organization’s target.