Unvaccinated children banned from school

An Italian doctor checks a syringe before vaccinating a child in Rome

An Italian doctor checks a syringe before vaccinating a child in Rome Credit Alessandra Tarantino AP

Children have been reportedly told to not turn up to school unless they can prove they have been vaccinated.

The Lorenzin Law, named after the country's former health minister, says that children must have mandatory chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations before they start school.

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.

Those aged between six and 16 can not be banned from attending school, however their parents do face fines for not following the mandatory course of vaccinations.

Cracking down on parents unable to produce the documents, Bologna, the largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy, barred more than 300 children failing to present immunization records, from attending school.

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The government, which had initially opposed the Lorenzin law, reversed that position after what it called "a measles emergency", and criticism from health experts accusing the anti-vaccination movement of "sending Italy back to the Middle Ages". Despite political pressure to extend the deadline, Health Minister Giulia Grillo kept it at March 11, saying "No vaccine, no school". The BBC added that Italian media reported regional authorities are "handling the situation in a number of different ways", with no notices of suspension reported in some areas and grace periods allowed in others. Such a low rate adversely affects herd immunity that prevents the spread of infection.

The country's immunization rate dropped to below 80 percent against the World Health Organization's (WHO) requirement of 95 percent. His immune system was compromised as he was recovering from leukaemia.

Last month, an eight-year-old cancer survivor in Rome had to be kept out of school because of the risk posed by unvaccinated children in his class.

Writing in a Facebook post on Monday, Ms Grillo admitted it "is a law that, at the time of approval, we criticised for several reasons" - and said that the law would be changed to include only those vaccinations that were necessary based on scientific data.

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