News ID: 219787
Published: 0857 GMT August 13, 2018

Why are so many Italians against vaccines?

Why are so many Italians against vaccines?

Italy’s populist coalition has been criticized in recent days for rowing back on a law that made 10 vaccines compulsory for children.

It suspended a requirement for parents to prove their children were vaccinated before starting nursery or preschool, wrote.

Critics say it will take the country back to the Middle Ages.

But what do people on the other side of the argument think and why does Italy have a growing anti-vaccine movement?

Last year, Italy’s previous government brought in a new law that required parents to inoculate their children against 10 diseases before they would be allowed to enroll at school.

It is this obligation that appears to have annoyed some of the anti-vaccine movement in the country.

Nadia Gatti, president of CONDAV, Italy’s national center for people damaged by vaccines, told Euronews’ Lillo Montalto the association was pro-choice rather than anti-vaccine.

“We believe people should have the freedom to choose whether to vaccinate their children.

“It is important not to force parents who are afraid of them — for whatever reason, scientifically-valid or not — to do them at all costs.

“If the state says there is an emergency and we must have one more vaccination, I am fine with it as long as it acknowledges the small possibility of having side effects and provides assistance to those parents who have to face that situation.

“To be told that there are no complications, or lie about the fact that they are 100 percent safe, is like killing these children twice.

“Measles? I'm okay with having a vaccine. Let's just not have all 10 together at the same time, or nine of them at the same time. I am fine if the state puts four to five compulsory vaccination but leave the others up to the parents' choice."

It is a trend that is seemingly more prominent than ever: A mistrust in the ‘establishment’ and its institutions, from Trump’s attacks on the ‘fake news’ media in the US to dismissals of expert opinion in the run-up to the Brexit referendum.

“You have really widespread skepticism in Italy that translates into this sense you are powerless and there is nothing you can do to improve your own position,” Daniele Albertazzi, an expert on Italian politics from the University of Birmingham told Euronews earlier this year.

This skepticism has spread to doctors and scientists in Italy and is part of a global trend of distrust in mediators, according to Andrea Grignolio, who teaches history of medicine and bioethics at La Sapienza University of Rome.

“It is important to underline how the use of new media — which uses a horizontal and filter-free communication — to obtain information on vaccinations is increasingly widespread,” said Aurea Oradini, an academic who has studied Italy’s inoculation skepticism.

Oradini, a board member of the Order of Physicians and Surgeons in Florence, said a legal case in Rimini six years ago has proved to be crucial.

Judges in the north-eastern city awarded damages to the family of a young boy with autism on the grounds his condition had most likely been caused by the MMR vaccination. The ruling was overturned on appeal three years later.

“This certainly represented a fundamental breaking point and inflicted a blow to trust in vaccinations in Italy,” added Oradini.

It was published two decades ago but it is still having an influence, it has been claimed.

A 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

But his study was debunked and found to be fraudulent and he was struck off the UK medical register.

Heidi Larson, the director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, told Euronews hesitancy over inoculations in Italy had been brewing for some time.

She said it only hit the political agenda when Italy had an outbreak of measles last year, which saw more than 5,000 cases and four deaths.

Experts say Italy’s immunization rate against measles — it was 85 percent of children in 2016 — is too low to contain the disease among the rest of the country.

The World Health Organization says it should be at 95 percent or above to protect the wider population from an outbreak.

The onset of measles prompted the government to make it mandatory for children to have 10 vaccinations before they could be enrolled at a state school.

Larson said politicians aligned themselves to either camp in the run up to Italy’s March general election with the eventual ruling coalition — consisting of populist parties League and Five Star Movement (M5S) — backing the anti-vaccination electorate.

Italian deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, leader of League, has claimed compulsory vaccination is ‘useless’ and ‘dangerous’.



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