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Health

Italy Will No Longer Ask Parents for Proof That They Vaccinated Their Children

Months after the country reached an important vaccination goal following a new law that made vaccines mandatory for children attending nurseries and schools, Italy’s health minister Giulia Grillo, has announced that proof of vaccines will no longer be needed.

Parents will now simply need to say that their children have been immunized in order to enroll them in school this September.

Grillo made this announcement at a news conference last week and said that this change was made to ease enrollment processes and encourage participation, according to The New York Times.

Take Action: Vaccines Should Be Accessible and Affordable For All

"We want to spur school inclusion and simplify rules for parents," Grillo said.

In 2017, the government introduced a rule that made 10 vaccinations mandatory for children attending preschool and school, following measles outbreaks in Italy last year, according to VaccinesToday.

Parents had to provide proof of vaccination when they enrolled their children, and they were not able to opt out.

Read More: Italy Has Now Vaccinated 95% Of Children Against 6 Diseases

Unvaccinated children could still be enrolled but parents faced fines of €500 to €7,500, according to The Conversation.

Giovanni Rezza, the head of the infectious diseases department of Italy's Higher Health Institute, said that the objective of the governmental decision was not to punish parents who do not vaccinate their children, but to increase the vaccination rates.

Italy had successfully vaccinated 95% of children against six diseases back in March, thanks to the new law and the six-in-one vaccine that protects against diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pertussis (whooping cough), polio, and tetanus.

Read More: Measles Cases Spike After Anti-Vaccine Political Party Gains Power in Italy

Now that parents will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination, some argue that this will result in a decrease in vaccination rates.

“Weakening a law that works, that Italians are respecting and is doing some good to children and to the health system is a self-destructive strategy,” Roberto Burioni, a virologist at San Raffaele University in Milan, told The New York Times.

Italy’s current leaders, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League, plan to revise the law around mandatory vaccines.

There were almost 5,000 cases of measles in Italy in 2017 — which was almost six times higher than in 2016, according to data from the Italian health ministry.