Under a new law, children under six will be legally turned away from nursery, which is known as ‘Asilo’ in Italy.
And while children of school age – which in Italy is six and above – cannot be turned away, schools will reserve the right to impose a fine of up to €500 (£425).
The law, known as Lorenzin law, came into effect yesterday, Monday 11 March. Parents were given a deadline to provide proof of vaccination for five different conditions: chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
“No vaccine, no school,” health minister Giulia Grillo told La Repubblica newspaper. “Now everyone has had time to catch up.”
The law was passed in order to tackle an outbreak of measles after some 5,000 cases were reported in 2017.
Last year, it was reported just 85% of children in Italy were immunised for measles – despite a World Health Organisation recommendation that 95% should be vaccinated in order to prevent outbreaks.
Historically, pro-vaccination schemes have been met with scepticism in Italy. When in 2017 former Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin introduced a policy to obligate children to undergo 10 compulsory vaccinations, a survey found between a quarter and half of the population opposed the new scheme.
While it is too early to see what impact this law has had on vaccination levels, the local authority in Bologna has sent suspension letters to the parents of 300 children, and 5,000 children have not yet provide their proof of vaccination documents, according to the BBC.
Italy isn’t the only country to clamp down on vaccinations. Last year, the Australian government announced it would withhold tax benefits from parents who refuse to keep their children up to date with immunisations.
But not everyone is convinced of the necessity. In a survey of 5,004 UK adults for YouGov revealed that 30% thought it was acceptable for parents to choose not to give their kids the vaccine, while just over half (53%) thought it was unacceptable. And 17% weren’t sure.