Italy’s Five Star Movement and the League have helped sway the Italian upper house into overturning mandatory vaccinations legislation. This is in spite of a drastic rise of measles outbreaks in recent times.
According to The Independent, Italy’s upper house voted to “remove a law that requires children to have 10 vaccinations before enrolling in state schools.” The law initially came into effect in March after 5,000 people contracted measles this year, which resulted in four deaths, according to TheLocal.it. This figure is up from approximately 600 cases of the measles reported in 2016. Prior to the introduction of this law, only four vaccinations were required. The measles vaccine was not listed as one of the required four. In addition to the recent law, “parents of unvaccinated children aged between six and 16 faced fines of up to €500.”
The Telegraph suggests that the Five Star Movement and the League are responsible for the turnaround. Both of these groups, making up Italy’s populist government, came to power in June and have been actively pursuing an overturn in Italy’s new vaccination law. In fact, the party has been accused of spreading anti-vaccination information that has been widely debunked by the scientific community, including the belief that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination can cause autism.
Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and the head of the League, has gone so far as to call vaccinations “useless and in many cases dangerous.”
The Five Star Movement’s health minister, Giulia Grillo, while admitting her own children are immunized, suggests that everyone should make their own decision when it comes to the health of their children, according to TheLocal.it.
Stefano Bonaccini, the governor of Emilia Romagna, believes that the reversal of this law sets a dangerous precedence.
“Halting compulsory vaccinations to surrender to the no-vaccination lobby sends us right back to the Middle Ages.”
Prominent immunologist Roberto Burioni suggests that Salvini is telling “dangerous lies.” He elaborates further.
“[These vaccines] are the same ones used all over the world. They save millions of lives in total safety. They protect you, your children and also all the Italian citizens that you have the duty to protect.”
According to The Independent, the amendment was passed by 148 to 110 votes. However, it “will not become law in time for the new school year since it still needs to pass the lower house after the parliamentary recess.”
Regardless of the overturned law, according to The Telegraph, some schools are still vowing to refuse entry to children who have not been vaccinated as they are fearful of the spread of disease among children who aren’t fully immunized.