March 25, 2019
Italian Anti-Vax Politician, Massimiliano Fedriga, Hospitalized With Chickenpox

An Italian politician who leads the country's anti-vax movement was hospitalized for four days last week. He was reportedly diagnosed with an infection related to the Varicella-Zoster virus, better known as chickenpox.

The Daily Mail reports that after Massimiliano Fedriga, who is the president of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and a member of the right-wing Northern League party, announced he was ill on his Twitter account, he was lambasted on social media. Many of his critics made comments related to the concept of karma.

Fedriga has argued against the Lorenzin decree which made full vaccinations a requirement for all schoolchildren in the country should they wish to attend class. He stated that he had his own children vaccinated, but didn't believe parents should be compelled to inoculate their children before sending them to school.

President Fedriga stated in 2017 that making the 12 vaccines, including vaccines for chickenpox and the measles, obligatory for schoolchildren was not the way to convince anti-vaxxers.

After being released from the hospital, Fedriga tweeted a message to his supporters.

"I'm fine, I'm at home in convalescence and I thank everyone."
While the responses to Fedriga's post were almost exclusively in Italian, it was hard not to notice the word "karma" throughout.

Microbiologist Roberto Burioni shared the story on his website, MedicalFacts, to say that this is what can happen when adults have not been vaccinated as children. He says that some of these "childhood illnesses" can be far more serious in adults.

"[Mr. Fedriga], like many adults, did not get vaccinated... if he had been vaccinated as an adult he would be in perfect health. If he had infected a pregnant woman we would be facing a malformed child or an abortion. The only way we have to avoid such tragedies is to vaccinate us all to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus, which could have hit a much more vulnerable person."
Fedriga said that critics had warned him that he would get chickenpox from his kids, but since his children are vaccinated, he didn't think he was at risk.

The Lorenzin decree was introduced in 2017 throughout Italy after a deadly outbreak of the measles. As a result of the decree being made into law, parents of non-vaccinated schoolchildren could be fined between $100 and $450. Despite the mandate, the World Health Organization says that Italy has not met the 95 percent recommended vaccination rate, with over 100 cases of measles being reported in January alone.

Unilad reported that Fedriga posted additional messages later to Facebook, writing that he was disappointed to see tweets celebrating that he had been hospitalized. He said he still believes that parents shouldn't be "coerced" into vaccinations, calling those who demand it "Stalinists."