Italian parents could be fined for sending unvaccinated children to school

An Italian doctor checks a syringe before vaccinating a child in Rome

If they're between ages 7 to 16, their parents will face a fine.

A new Italian law reportedly put into effect Tuesday mandates that parents get their kids vaccinated for school or risk new penalties.

In Bologna, suspension letters were sent to the parents of 300 children.

This stance follows months of debate over compulsory vaccination, both in Italy and across the world.

But up until Tuesday, a temporary measure meant students could remain in school as long as their parents said they were vaccinated.

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Italy's so-called Lorenzin law, named after the former health minister who introduced it, states children must receive a set of mandatory injections before attending school.

"Italy's measles vaccine coverage was par with Namibia, lower than Ghana", San Raffaele University microbiology and virology professor Roberto Burioni told CNN a year ago. It also fines parents of children between 6 and 16 years old about $560 if they can not prove their children have been vaccinated.

Health Minister Giulia Grillo said the rules were now simple: "No vaccine, no school".

The required vaccinations are polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, pertussis, measles, rubella, mumps, chicken pox and Haemophilus influenzae type B. The BBC added that Italian media reported regional authorities are "handling the situation in a number of different ways", with no notices of suspension reported in some areas and grace periods allowed in others.

The goal of the law, according to a government website, is to fight the gradual decline in Italy's vaccination rates. It threatened to overturn the mandatory vaccination law passed by the previous government but ended up scrapping its plans in the face of criticism as the country experienced a measles outbreak last summer.

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