Italy isn't messing around when it comes to vaccine hesitancy among its citizens.
In a massive ruling dubbed the Lorenzin Law, the country has effectively given parents two options regarding vaccination —either give your young ones their required shots or pay the price. according to BBC, unvaccinated children under the age of six will miss time until parents can prove they're shots are up to date, while parents of kids six to 16 will receive a fine that works out to be $450 USD.
The government's goal is simple — they wanted to raise immunization rates from below 80 percent to 95 percent following a measles outbreak. They're almost at that target too, according to reports. Depending on the vaccination, they've reached or got close to reaching that number since the law was brought into effect. 95 percent is a number thrown out by the World Health Organization to reach a point of "herd immunity", which essentially limits the spread of disease to those who are either too young or have some kind of issue preventing them from getting vaccinated.
Parents were given time to prepare for these changes, however. The law was passed in July 2018, but it gave parents until March 11, 2019, to provide the appropriate documentation. Under this new rule, children are required to receive 10 vaccines for various diseases, including polio, chicken pox, and measles. Still, around reports suggest around 5,000 children do not have up to date vaccine documentation.
That issue isn't limited to Italy, however. In fact, the World Health Organization has recorded a 30 percent increase in measles cases. They attribute a portion of this rise to "Vaccine Hesitancy", which they determined as one of the biggest threats to global health in 2019. They say vaccines prevent two to three million deaths a year, and that number could raise if access to proper shots were readily available. While there is work to do in that regard, hesitancy to vaccinate a child is being attributed to a rise in measles cases in areas that saw the disease almost disappear.
It will be interesting to see how other countries deal with this situation going forward. Many nations already have compulsory vaccine laws in place, but if Italy sees a decrease in diseases like mumps, polio, and measles, then making vaccination a legal obligation could gain more traction globally. In the USA, there is a federal law that requires children to receive their shots, but in 47 states there are exceptions made for conflicting beliefs.