When the World Health Organization (WHO) named the anti-vaccine movement a global health threat for 2019, it became clear how dangerous vaccine hesitancy has become worldwide. Now, Italy is doing its part to ensure children are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Lorenzin law, named after former health minister Giulia Grillo who introduced it, requires children to receive vaccines for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella before attending school, BBC reports. Children up to the age of 6 years old will not be able to attend nursery school or kindergarten if their immunization cannot be proved. Plus, parents risk being fined up to €500 (about $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Older students between the ages of 6 and 16 won’t be banned from school, but parents must complete a mandatory course of immunization or also risk being fined.
Grillo says the rules are simple: "No vaccine, no school."
The enforced law follows efforts to increase Italy’s lackluster vaccine rates, which have been below 80 percent in recent years. WHO aims for a target vaccine rate of 95 percent because that’s when “herd immunity” is most effective, BBC explains. Herd immunity is when enough of the population is vaccinated to protect those who cannot receive their vaccines, including babies too young or people with medical conditions.
The bulk of the anti-vax movement is built on misconceptions spread throughout blogs and Facebook groups. They target concerned parents vulnerable to the misleading and scary information being presented to them. It’s gotten so out of hand, that social media sites including Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube have had to double down their efforts to stop the spread of anti-immunization propaganda.
Measles alone has seen a 30 percent increase globally, according to WHO. In the US, there have been 228 cases of measles across 12 states so far this year, the CDC says. Plus, we’ve already had six outbreaks—defined as three or more cases—this year throughout multiple areas in New York as well as in Washington, Texas, Illinois and California.
It’s such a widespread issue that a recent study of more than 650,000 children proved once again there is no link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
Remeber, as doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals have stressed time and time again, vaccines are the most effective way to prevent you, your family and those around you from developing dangerous diseases.