Compulsory vaccinations at school, 30,000 children under 6 years not in good standing: what happens now?
Compulsory vaccinations at school, The deadline for submitting the documentation expires on 10 March. An extension of a couple of weeks is decided, but only for the regions that have a vaccine registry The deadline for the submission of documentation relating to the compulsory vaccination for access to school, for children and young people aged 0 to 16, expires on Saturday 10 March. A limit (extended until Monday morning, since many schools on Saturdays are closed) that applies to all Italian regions, even though there are two possible procedures: standard or simplified. To date, children under the age of 6 who are not in compliance with the documentation for vaccinations (and therefore could be suspended from nests and maternal) would be about 30 thousand.
«There was a good recovery»
“At the moment there are no certain numbers – underlines Carlo Signorelli, past president of the Italian Society of Hygiene -, the only starting point is the 120 thousand in arrears calculated by the Ministry of Health when the law was approved. Of these, about a third had already been recovered in October, and it can be estimated that around 30 thousand are not in order. Difficult, however, will not be readmitted to school: there are regions with an extension because they have a registry office, others that give an appointment when they send the letter of recall to parents. At a minimum, there should be a last interview with the ASL before arriving at the exclusion. The accounts can only be done in June “. The first data on the effects of the law are however positive. «The feeling is that there has been a good recovery – confirms Signorelli -, the obligation has acted both on the hesitant parents and on the structures, who found themselves having to double the vaccinations compared to the past. The disruptions that were found were minimal compared to the load to which the vaccination centres were called ».
«Vaccine, a social duty»
“At this point, it is a matter of understanding whether we want to keep a serious attitude or not – adds Paolo Bonanni, professor of Hygiene at the University of Florence and a member of the Italian Society of Hygiene -. If some regions would offer the possibility of extensions indefinitely for the defaulters, the meaning of the law would be less, it would be a hoax for those who instead is in order. Moreover, we are talking about a law of the State, I do not see how it is possible to grant exemptions from the Regions. And some distinctions must be made. The expulsion from compulsory school (6-16 years) does not happen, parents cannot accept the “social duty” to vaccinate the child – thus protecting, in addition to the child, also the companions – but in the face of this, they pay a fine that is not, however, a huge amount. I see the sanction as an indication of the responsibility that the parent takes to refuse vaccinations, recognized by the entire scientific world as something very important and with minimal risks. Instead, nest and maternal are not compulsory schools, these are social services that the Municipality or the State guarantee to facilitate the work of parents. If I do not take responsibility for my son and the community, it is right that this service is taken away from me until I am in good standing “.
«The law works»
Even Bonanni believes that the law on vaccination has produced excellent results: “Not all regions have yet provided the data, but as far as we know the coverage of the hexavalent has increased by about 2%, returning to above 95% required by the World Health Organization as a safety threshold. The data on measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are also noteworthy: thanks to the law, coverage has increased by around 5%. It is not enough yet, but we are getting back on track because, as far as measles are concerned, we are the worst country in Europe, together with Romania. The law on obligation works very well, it makes us return to a situation of greater security “.
Two procedures are possible starting from 10 March: standard and simplified. In the Regions with standard procedure, by Monday morning the parents must present the documents of the vaccination or related to the booking at the ASL (if the date for the vaccination is fixed after March 10). If it is not fulfilled, access to nests and nursery schools (0-6 years) is forbidden until the minor has regularized his position. For the boys of compulsory school (6-16 years) default the procedure that can lead to a pecuniary sanction from 100 to 500 euros. Children from 0 to 6 years are readmitted to school when they prove to be in good standing.
In some Regions (those equipped with a computerized vaccine registry and that adhere to the protocol) it is possible to anticipate the simplified procedure (foreseen by the law starting from the year 2019/2020), which allows the direct exchange of data between ASL and institutes school. Veneto, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Lazio, Tuscany, Marche, Bolzano, Trento, Liguria, Lazio, Valle d’Aosta and Sicily joined. In this case, parents must not bring the documentation by March 10 and compliance with the vaccine requirements is ascertained directly by schools and local health authorities. In any case, the deadline of 10 March remains valid: in case it is not fulfilled, access to the nursery and nursery schools will be forbidden and for the boys of the compulsory school the procedure that may lead to the sanction will start.
Two weeks extension
So the Ministries of Education and Health have granted an extension of a couple of weeks, but only for the regions that have a registry of vaccines. The deadline of 10 March is indicated in the law on the obligation and has been reiterated in all the circulars, despite the requests by some local authorities to prevent children from being excluded from the frequency of nests at maternal level. In the absence of the vaccination booklet or the stamped declaration from the ASL, a proof of the immunization booking will be sufficient. Instead, in the absence of documentation, school leaders will have to prevent access to nests and maternal, while for those who are older they will take financial penalties on their parents. A different matter applies to the regions that have activated a vaccine registry: in this case, as mentioned, “They will talk” directly to ASL and school services. The ASL, March 10, will deliver to the schools’ lists with children, not in good standing. The managers, by March 20, will ask the families to be in good standing within 10 days, after which the sanctions (6-16 years) or the removal from school (0-6 years) will start.
The situation in Lombardy
In Milan, there are 40, out of 33 thousand, nursery and mother’s children who risk being out of class on Monday because the families have not yet delivered the certificate of vaccination. This was stated by the deputy mayor Anna Scavuzzo. “These 40 children are from families who have self-certified that the vaccination of their children is in order,” explained Scavuzzo. In case they do not have to bring the certificate by Monday morning, there would be a problem because the children were included in the classes as vaccinated on the basis of this self-certification ». The mayor Giuseppe Salahi assured: “we will not change our address”, and added that there will be a discussion on the subject with the Region, which instead plans not to leave the children out of school until the end of the checks. The Regional Councilor for Welfare Giulio Gallerahas indeed assured that “no child will be excluded from school until the completion of our Ats”. “By March 20, as per ministerial circular – explained Gallery -, schools will send us lists of those who have not submitted the required documentation. At that point, our vaccination centres will check every single situation to ascertain that behind the default there is the real will not to vaccinate the children, and not an error or an oversight. For this reason, only at the conclusion of this verification will it be possible to actually declare the non-fulfilment of the vaccination obligation “. According to Pirellone data, there are just under 20,000 children aged 0 to 6 who have not yet carried out compulsory vaccinations in Lombardy. At the end of 2017 there were 49,815, so 30% got it right.
In Emilia Romagna
Also, the Councilor for Health of Emilia Romagna, Sergio Venturi, states that no one will be left out of school because they do not comply with the vaccinations. “All children up to 16 years who were not in compliance with the vaccination schedule are already in charge of the Ausl and have received the letter with the scheduled appointment”, informs the Region. The deadline of March 10 concerns only those who at the beginning of the school year had submitted a self-certification. Only these parents, therefore, must show the vaccine certificate or the letter with the appointment at the school. In Emilia-Romagna, there are “very limited” cases, thanks to the exchange of lists between schools and Ausl, “which allowed the overwhelming majority of parents not to deliver any documents, or at most the letter of the appointment”.
Tuscany: «Children in good standing will be suspended»
Hardline in Tuscany. The Region has announced that children who are not in good standing will be suspended from nurseries and kindergartens. After March 10, a notice will be sent to the families, who are invited to present to the school the documentation related to the vaccination or the booking of an interview. If parents, guardians or carers have not submitted the documentation, the children will be suspended, while remaining enrolled, and can be readmitted only after the presentation of the request. Those who have made an appointment not for the administration of the vaccine, but for an introductory interview, will also be considered in order. In Tuscany, between January and February, about 8 thousand minors were “recovered” with regard to mandatory vaccinations. About one-third of the older boys are defaulting, according to the Region,
The case of Alto Adige
There is also a small anti-vaccine stronghold, difficult to conquer. South Tyrol represents “a big problem” for the “great distrust of vaccinations”, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said recently. In the Autonomous Province, the percentage of children vaccinated is by far the lowest in Italy. The “Impfgegner”, as they are called the no vax in German, have always been very active. The Province of Bolzano, therefore, relies on a soft line and does not provide, at least for the moment, fines or exclusions. Bolzano has long decided to focus on persuasion instead. «The trend is positive, more and more families are convinced and vaccinated their children», explains Councilor Marta Stocker. In South Tyrol, the objectors, who did not attend the vaccination appointment, are invited to an informal interview, only after the Province will take measures, but they have yet to be defined. Only a few days ago the no vax filed 15.114 signatures of a popular initiative for free choice on vaccines in the provincial council. The Provincial Council will have to comment on it within six months.