Italy:Salvini ramps up rhetoric with attack on mandatory vaccines

24 Jun, 2018
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 Italy’s League leader dismisses policy as ‘useless and dangerous’ The anti-vaccine is critical of a law passed by the previous government requiring 10 mandatory vaccinations for school enrolment © Alamy Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT James Politi in Rome JUNE 22, 2018 Print this page33 Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League, has dismissed mandatory vaccinations as “useless and in many cases dangerous” as he extended a streak of provocative statements since taking power as the dominant figure of the new populist government.  In a radio interview on Friday, Mr Salvini aligned himself squarely with Italy’s anti-vaccine movement, which has been fuelled by scepticism of established science and medicine. The movement was harshly critical of a law passed by the previous centre-left government requiring 10 mandatory vaccinations for school enrolment.  “We want to allow all kids to get into class, to go to school,” said Mr Salvini. “We will keep going because I believe that 10 mandatory vaccinations are useless, and in many cases dangerous if not harmful.”  Mr Salvini, the 45-year-old interior minister and vice-premier, has grabbed the Italian political spotlight since his new government — in alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement — was sworn in on June 1 after a lengthy political stalemate. Mr Salvini has developed a habit of daily, if not hourly, bombastic interventions that are challenging mainstream Italian policy and setting the political agenda. Mr Salvini’s comments on vaccinations come after a week in which he called for a “census” of Italy’s Roma population to identify anyone who should be deported, threatened to remove a police escort protecting Roberto Saviano, the anti-mafia author, and launched a barrage of attacks on non-governmental organisation rescue ships saving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.  Mr Salvini’s attack on vaccines is notable because it goes well beyond his ministerial remit, as well as the “contract” setting out the terms of the League’s alliance in government with Five Star. Recommended The Big Read Italy’s new government: Europe on edge after palace takeover Giulia Grillo, the health minister from Five Star, has been critical of forcing children who have not been vaccinated to stay out of school, but has not questioned the safety of vaccines. “I am not an anti-vax minister. There can be different approaches and ways to propose this important prevention tool to the population, but we are absolutely in favour of the use of vaccines”, she said. The joint Five-Star/League policy platform had said that “the theme of finding the right balance between the right to education and the right to health” needed to be found, to “guarantee necessary vaccinations” and “protecting collective and individual health”.  Roberto Burioni, a prominent immunologist based in Milan, attacked Mr Salvini’s comments in a social media post that was widely reported in Italian media. “No, minister Salvini. Ten vaccines are not useless nor are they harmful, they protect you, your children and your voters. This is a very dangerous lie.”  The decision by the previous centre-left government to beef up mandatory vaccinations was triggered by a measles outbreak that was among the worst in Europe. Vaccination coverage for measles rose last year, after declining since 2013, but remains below the 95 per cent threshold for “herd immunity” set by the World Health Organisation.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 24th, 2018 at 1:57 pm and is filed under Latest News.

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