Italy bans unvaccinated kids from school

Italy health minister

The new "Lorenzin law" is aimed at reducing measles outbreaks caused the inadequate vaccination of children.

Following months of fiery debate - and measles outbreaks - a new law banning unvaccinated children from Italy's classrooms has come into effect.

Children under six can be barred from attending nursery schools and kindergartens if their parents fail to present written evidence that they have had the required vaccinations.

After the notorious study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that linked measles vaccine to autism, there has been rise in anti-vaccination sentiments among parents.

Vaccines have been a flash point for recent elections in Italy.

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Under the new law, children must now receive a range of mandatory vaccinations before attending school.

Children can not 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.

So far, it has been reported that in Bologna, authorities have sent suspension letters to parents over more than 300 children, and a total of 5,000 kids do not have up-to-date vaccination documents. There have been 165 measles cases this January in the European Union and previous year there were 78 cases of vaccine-preventable infections, say reports. Despite political pressure to extend the deadline, Health Minister Giulia Grillo kept it at March 11, saying "No vaccine, no school".

And fines as high as roughly $560 could also be implemented if older children - ages 6 through 16 - are unvaccinated, according to the BBC.

Regional authorities are taking care of the situation through different ways, report Italian media. With rates below 80 percent, the country lags far behind the World Health Organization's 95 percent target. Such a low rate adversely affects herd immunity that prevents the spread of infection.

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