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Italy: Vaccinations for Children Made Mandatory

(June 13, 2017) On May 19, 2017, the Italian Parliament approved the Decree-Law Containing Urgent Measures on the Compulsory Vaccination of Children, which makes vaccinations mandatory for children as a condition of school registration. (Italy Makes Childhood Vaccinations Compulsory, FRANCE24 (May 19, 2007); Decree-Law No. 73 of June 7, 2017, Urgent Provisions on Vaccine Prevention, GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (June 7, 2017), NORMATTIVA  (in Italian).)  The legislation seeks to counteract the rise in contraction of measles among children throughout the country; during the last epidemic, 18,000 cases and 15 deaths were reported.  (Italy Makes Childhood Vaccinations Compulsory, supra.)

The Decree-Law takes effect for the new school year that begins in September 2017.  (Emilia Piccolo, Le Vaccinazioni Obbligatorie Secondo il Decreto Legge 19.05.2017 [Compulsory Vaccinations According to the Decree-Law of May 19, 2017], SALVIS JURIBUS (last visited June 1, 2017).) The Italian Ministry of Health published a press release with details on the new legislation.  (Press Release, Ministry of Health, Le Novità del Decreto Legge sui Vaccini [News of the Decree-Law on Vaccinations] (May 19, 2017).)

Specific Requirements

Vaccinations are compulsory for children from birth to 16 years of age, according to the National Plan of Vaccination Prevention. (Id.)  The vaccinations are designed to protect children from 12 diseases: chickenpox, diphtheria, haemophilus B (Hib), hepatitis B, meningitis B and C, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough.  (Italy Makes Childhood Vaccinations Compulsory, supra.)

Exceptions

The compulsory vaccinations may only be omitted or deferred in cases of proven danger to the health of the child, when specific clinical conditions, duly documented, are present. (Le Novità del Decreto Legge sui Vaccini , supra.)  Children who have not been vaccinated must be kept only in classrooms with other non-immunized children.  (Id.)  School authorities must report the presence of non-vaccinated students to health authorities.  (Id.)

Penalties 

Violation of mandatory vaccination obligations may result in several adverse consequences for non-compliant parents and guardians, including:

  • administrative fines from €500 to €7,500 (about US$559-$8,380);
  • suspension of parental rights by the local juvenile court; and/or
  • prohibition from registration of the children in day-care centers or elementary schools, whether public or private. (Id.)

Education Campaign

Starting on June 1, 2017, the Ministry of Health is to begin a campaign for the education of the population about the importance of vaccinations. (Id.)  During the 2017-2018 academic year, the Health Ministry, together with the Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research, will promote initiatives for the training of teachers and students on the subject of vaccinations; parents’ associations will also be involved in the campaign.  (Id.)