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Govt approves decree on mandatory vaccinations for state pupils

Govt approves decree on mandatory vaccinations for state pupils

Italian cabinet on Friday issued a decree that makes immunisation obligatory for children up to the age of six who attend state schools and imposes hefty fines for parents who failed to comply.

The decree requires parents to vaccinate their children against 12 diseases, three times as many were previously compulsory. Diseases against which children must be immunised include measles and meningitis, cases of which have surged recently in Italy.

"Children without the obligatory jabs will not be allowed to attend school and their parents will face fines of up to 30 times the current ones, which range between 150 and 250 euros," Italy's premier Paolo Gentiloni said after Friday's cabinet meeting.

Gentiloni added that the fines would be increased "gradually".

The decree's objective was "to avoid a real health emergency," Gentiloni said.

Italy's health minister Beatrice Lorenzin wanted to make parents of children up to age 10 have the compulsory vaccinations.

Lorenzin has previously sounded the alarm over a recent rise in infectious diseases in Italy, notably measles, which a growing anti-vaccine movement is believed to have contributed to.

In a newspaper interview last week, Lorenzin blamed the trend on "social media and fake news that have fuelled irrational fears."

The minister has also shared photos of her three-month-old twins getting their shots in a bid to reassure parents spooked by a discredited claims of a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism.

Measle cases rose more than fivefold across Italy in April from the same month of 2016, the National Health Institute reported in early May.