Approaching mandatory vaccination in Italy

In this section it's possible to view the Decrees, Circulars and Recommendations regarding the recent introduction of mandatory vaccinations.

The recent phenomenon of "Vaccine Hesitancy", i.e. the reluctance that has led to a decline in the uptake of mandatory and recommended vaccinations in Italy, is dependent on various factors including the fear of alleged risks following vaccination (in particular the outcry regarding the false relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism) and the low risk perception of infectious diseases (it is said that vaccines are victims of their own success, given that when the incidences of the diseases they curb are decreased, the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases are perceived to be low and vaccination is not deemed important by the population). As a result of this decline in vaccination, diseases such as measles have reappeared in Italy and the Italian government, supported by the opinion of technical bodies and the scientific community, has taken steps to make certain vaccinations, until now only "recommended", mandatory by law.

In Italy, steps towards mandatory vaccination began with the vaccine for smallpox (introduced back in 1888, but already widespread in the Kingdom of Italy even before Unification) whose cycle ended in 1981 when the disease, thanks to extensive vaccination worldwide, was definitively eradicated.

In light of the success of smallpox vaccination, other vaccinations were introduced as mandatory (diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tetanus, hepatitis B) up to a time when it was considered that the population had such a level of health consciousness that it was no longer necessary to compel them to protect themselves since they would voluntarily do it. Thus, the introduction of new vaccines subsequently followed a recommendation criterion, until the point when, given the upsurge in the aforementioned ‘vaccine hesitancy’, it was considered necessary to reintroduce mandatory vaccinations as a school-entry requirement for children aged 0- 16.

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