According to the “Lorenzin law” (named after former health minister Beatrice Lorenzin who was responsible for the bill), children six years old and younger will be banned from school if they do not have proof of the required immunizations, which include those for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, and polio.
And while students between the ages of six and 16 can’t be turned away from school, their parents will be fined up to $560 if they are unable to prove that their children have been vaccinated.
“No vaccine, no school,” Health Minister Giulia Grillo told an Italian newspaper, the BBC reports. She added that the deadline for the required vaccinations was extended to March 11 to give everyone “time to catch up.”
So far, local authorities say that nearly 300 out of 5,000 children have been suspended from school in Bologna alone for not having up-to-date immunizations. Other regions in the country have been given a further extension on the deadline to allow parents additional time to get their children vaccinated.
However, based on findings published by the Italian health authority on Monday, the new law has already proven to be effective. The council reported that the vaccination rate in Italy for children born in 2015 has drastically increased from a very low 80 percent. It’s now 95 percent, which equals the World Health Organization’s target rate.
“All children have the right to go to class,” Grillo wrote on Facebook, “But I’m sure the parents understand that the health of all is the supreme good, as well as a constitutional right, and we must do everything possible to guarantee it universally.”