Despite a growing movement of people against vaccinations in the United States, one country, at least, has determined parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will face legal ramifications. This week, Italy passed legislation enforcing rules that parents who don’t vaccinate their children against 12 preventable diseases, including measles, chicken pox, polio, and tetanus, will face significant fines.
In a press conference on Friday, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Genitoloni stated that “anti-scientific theories” — believed to be spread by the populist 5-Star political party — over the years have helped endanger the health and lives of the public. There has been a spread of measles in the country during that timeframe, with a sharp rise in cases this year, over 2,000, while there were 840 reported cases in 2016. In fact, the United States is advising potential travelers to Italy about this measles outbreak.
Reports point to Italy’s anti-vaccination movement — wherein parents refuse to vaccinate their children due to an unfounded and debunked belief that such medical measures cause autism — as the most likely cause for the country’s measles outbreak. A similar situation seems to be developing in the U.S., where Minnesota is experiencing a rise in confirmed cases of measles. In the Minnesota example, experts are pointing to vaccination skepticism within the Somali community as the source of vulnerability against the disease. Some polls suggest that 1 in 10 Americans believe that vaccinations are unsafe.
Other countries have mandatory vaccination legislation in place. In 2016, a couple in France received a two-month suspended jail sentence for refusing to vaccinate their infant and toddler against diphtheria, polio, and tetanus. Yet, due to debates about personal liberty and the spread of antivaccine sentiments, among other factors, enforcement of those mandatory rules vary.
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