Italian vaccine policy – bans unvaccinated kids from school

Italian vaccine policy

The Italian vaccine policy has been perplexing over the past few years. Although Italy is not the center of the vaccine universe, there have been some amusing and troubling decisions out of Italy that have caused me to write about it on a number of occasions.

Implementing smart public health policy, Italy has decided that if a child under the age of 6 has not been vaccinated, they will not be able to attend kindergartens or elementary school. And if the child is between ages 7-16, the parents will face a fine. This happened despite the promises of the new Italian government elected in 2018 which seemed to delay the previous government’s law that mandated vaccines

However, the recent measles epidemic hitting Europe, mostly caused by vaccine refusal, and relatively low vaccination rates in the country, probably convinced the government that it needed to protect its citizens.

Let’s take a short look at the Italian vaccine policy over the years, and see how we got here. Continue reading “Italian vaccine policy – bans unvaccinated kids from school”

Corvelva promotes fake HPV vaccine “research” – anti-vaxxers dance in the streets

Here we go again – the Italian anti-vaccine Corvelva, the anti-vaccine group which produced laughable pseudoscientific research about vaccines. Their first salvo that missed tried to show that the Infarix Hexa vaccine, which protects infants against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae B (Hib), didn’t contain antigens to those toxins, viruses, and bacteria. 

Of course, that research was pure unmitigated equine excrement since Corvelva provided no scientific transparency, no peer-review, no data, and no substance that real science uses. As far as I can tell, not a single major national drug review agency spent more than a nanosecond reviewing their bogus claims since they were not in the form of real scientific research.

But like zombies that keep coming because of another failed plan from Rick Grimes, they keep coming back, so a good scientist like this ancient dinosaur must continue to put a claw into their brains. This time, the Corvelva zombies are back with more pseudoscience “research” about the HPV vaccine, one of the handful of ways to actually prevent cancer in this world. 

So, as one of the anti-vaccine zombie fighters on the internet, let’s get to the action. Continue reading “Corvelva promotes fake HPV vaccine “research” – anti-vaxxers dance in the streets”

Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation

On 7 March 2015, a four-year-old Italian girl dubbed “Clara” by the media (real name hidden to protect her privacy) died from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a complication of measles, after prolonged suffering (the girl was in the hospital in which she died for over 4 months, and has been sick at least since last October, and hospitalized elsewhere). Continue reading “Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation”

Vaccine pseudoscience from Corvelva anti-vaccine “researchers”

Oh, here we go again with more vaccine pseudoscience that makes the anti-vaccine religion fall on their knees and genuflect as if real science was presented. This time it is garbage science from an Italian anti-vaccine group, Corvelva, that tries to claim that vaccines don’t contain anything but toxins. They laughably believe that vaccines don’t even contain antigens.

Yes, you read that right. This amateur group “published” (and by published, I don’t mean in a real peer-reviewed journal, I mean a pdf file on the internet). Obviously, this ranks near the bottom, if not the bottom, of the hierarchy of scientific research. But we’ll get to all of that – let’s take the time to dig through the nonsense presented by this fake “study.”  Continue reading “Vaccine pseudoscience from Corvelva anti-vaccine “researchers””

Italian vaccine mandate – implementation delayed – another UPDATE

Italian vaccine mandate

On Monday, the Italian Senate passed a large bill that, among other things, delayed the implementation of the Italian vaccine mandate passed in 2017 until the 2019-2020 school year. This short post explains what this means – and does not mean.

In response to a large measles outbreak in Italy that killed about 1:1000 (around 8 in the past year) and hospitalized thousands, the Italian government then in power passed a law that mandates that children 0-6 be vaccinated with ten vaccines (before that, four were required) before attending daycare or school. It also imposed fines on parents of children 0-16 who were not vaccinated with these vaccines.

In the 2018 election, two anti-establishment parties joined the coalition government. One, the 5 Star Movement, includes people who are openly anti-vaccine. It’s not clear to what extent their anti-vaccine views affected their election results, but among other things, the party promised to roll back the Italian vaccine mandate.

As a first step, the new health minister allowed parents to self-certify vaccines for the 2018-2019 school year – to declare whether or not their children were vaccinated (in a sense, rewarding dishonest anti-vaccine parents over honest ones). 

The new Italian Senate law included many things, but the most important issue is that they delayed the implementation of the mandate for the school year 2019-2020. Importantly, the law will not become effective until it passes Italy’s lower house, which is on recess until September 11, 2018, so it will not apply in the school year 2018-2019.

During the current year, the mandate still applies, as does the self-certification decree, probably. But if it becomes law, it will mean that the law is not applicable the following year, giving the new government a chance to try and overturn the mandate completely. 

Naturally, medical societies – as well as politicians from other parties – are concerned about the repeal of the Italian vaccine mandate.

The measles outbreak, which was the impetus for the original law, is still going strong. In fact, the CDC has issued a level 1 travel warning for Italy because of this ongoing outbreak.

Several people in Italy have died recently from the measles, and many were hospitalized. Almost all the cases are in the unvaccinated, including those too young to be vaccinated. This is not a great time to roll back the Italian vaccine mandate intended to protect children and contain the outbreak. 

Update – 6 September 2018

Italy today reaffirmed that the vaccine mandate applies in 2018-2019 and children 0-6 need to be vaccinated. It also removed the option of self-certification, requiring that parents provide a doctor certificate showing children are vaccinated.

However, the government still announced its intent to revisit the mandate in future.

Update – 9 September 2018

The Italian Parliament relaxed its change of direction – self-certification will be allowed during the current school year. The mandate, however, is still in force, at least until March 2019.

Italy mandates vaccines – another country protects its children

Italy mandates vaccines

Like what happened in France a few weeks ago, the parliament in Italy mandates vaccines for its children. Italy’s parliament gave final approval to mandating a list of childhood vaccinations for school children up to the age of 16. The goal of the legislation was to counter the anti-vaccine trend that Italian officials have attributed to misinformation.

Under these new requirements, parents must present proof of vaccinations to gain admission into preschools, while parents of children of mandatory school age face fines of up to €500 (US$591) for noncompliance. The requirements cover 10 vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. Two vaccines were dropped from an initial list of 12 – meningococcal B and meningococcal C.

During the parliamentary debate, Italian health officials faced a measles outbreak that caused the US to issue a travel warning. In addition, a scandal arose in northern Italy that involved a nurse who claimed for years to have vaccinated children but had not.

Of course, anti-vaccine activists protested outside of the parliament building using some fo the same tropes and myths pushed by those groups in the USA. In California, anti-vaccine protests were a regular event while the state legislature was considering SB277 which, in effect, mandated vaccines for the state’s children.

At the same time, the top Italian court once again found that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. Of course, science has found no correlation between vaccines and autism.

The Italian parliament was convinced by data that showed only 85.3% of Italian 2 years had been vaccinated in 2015. this is well short of the 95% herd effect threshold that is recommended by many public health agencies.

Furthermore, there were 3,232 cases of measles in Italy between January and June of 2017. This is a significant increase over the 478 cases during the same period 2016.

Governments, like France and Italy, have no choice but to reject the anti-science beliefs of segments of the population, and subsequently they mandated vaccines to protect children from diseases that can kill. Maybe if Italy had mandated these vaccines a few years ago, the children who died from measles would be alive now, sharing wonderful lives with their parents.

Right now, only California, West Virginia and Mississippi, in the United States,  eliminate all personal belief exemptions and mandate that children must be fully vaccinated before entering school. West Virginia and Mississippi have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country, and even after just one year, California’s rates are way up.

I hope that this is the early part of the trend to make vaccines mandatory. There simply is no reasonable evidence that vaccines are anything but safe and effective. Most of the reasons used by the anti-vaccine crowd is easily debunked with the simplest of scientific reasoning.

The trend to mandate vaccines are not examples of government overreach. They are attempts for cooler heads to prevail over the myths and lies pushed by those opposed to vaccines. They are attempts to make certain our children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases.

France mandates vaccines – saving children from diseases

France mandates vaccines

During an address to Parliament on Tuesday, Édouard Philippe, who serves as prime minister under new liberal president Emmanuel Macron, stated that starting next year, France mandates vaccines for all children. It will mandate vaccines for young children that are unanimously recommended by health authorities starting next year.

Three vaccines, for diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis, are already mandatory in France. Vaccines that would become compulsory under the new law would be pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) , hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, pneumococcus and meningococcus C.

Phillipe said, in his speech, that “children are still dying of measles. In the homeland of [Louis] Pasteur that is not admissible.” Legendary scientist Pasteur is one of the founders of the field of bacteriology and invented vaccines for anthrax and rabies.  Continue reading “France mandates vaccines – saving children from diseases”

Index of articles by Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Editor’s note – this index of articles by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has been updated and published here. The comments here are closed, and you can comment at the new article. 

 

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA) – is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Below is a list of articles that Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.

Continue reading “Index of articles by Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”

Italian MMR Autism Decision Overturned

italian mmr autism overturned by higher court

This article reviews a recent ruling from an Italian Court of Appeals that overturns a widely ridiculed decision by a Provincial Court in 2012 that claimed that the MMR vaccine (for measlesmumps and rubella) causes autism. Apparently, that court rejected all other science, and only accepted the fraudulent work of MrAndy Wakefield to validate the claims about the vaccine and autism. The Italian MMR autism decision has started to return as a zombie trope. Probably as a result of the kerfuffle about the anti-vaccine propaganda movie, Vaxxed. 

In June 2012, a provincial court in Rimini, Italy granted compensation to the family of a child named Valentino Bocca. The family alleged that the MMR vaccine Valentino received as part of his childhood immunizations caused his autism, and the court compensated them on that theory. The lower court’s decision was never on very firm grounds: it depended in part on testimony of an expert witness who relied, in turn, on Andrew Wakefield’s debunked study. Unfortunately, this Italian MMR autism decision has been used by anti-vaccine activists as part of their claims that vaccines cause autism.

Continue reading “Italian MMR Autism Decision Overturned”

GMO dangers – another published paper retracted UPDATE

GMO dangers

The science of GMO dangers has been seriously overblown by activists that really have no science behind their beliefs. The safety of GMOs has really reached the point that almost all of the scientific evidence is firmly on the side of the safety of GMO crops and, by extension, foods. Beyond that, the scientific consensus of respected scientific organizations across the world have come to the conclusion that the body of evidence supports the safety of GMO foods. And that GMO crops, which have been around for 10,000 years, are necessary to feed the people of this planet.

Nevertheless, the activists who continue to push the GMO dangers trope continue with their bad science. A few years ago, an article by Gilles-Eric Séralini was published which trumpeted the belief that GMOs cause cancerThat article was widely ridiculed and criticized by scientists across the world. Eventually, because of bad study design, terrible statistics, and harsh criticism of the conclusions, the journal that published the article retracted it.

It’s clear, at least to me, that when a side of a sociopolitical debate lacks scientific evidence, such as the anti-GMO side, they grab at anything, including Séralini’s retracted study, in an attempt to cherry-pick themselves into scientific legitimacy.  And it’s happened again.

Continue reading “GMO dangers – another published paper retracted UPDATE”