Would you tell a pilot how to fly a plane with your baby on board?
“Ten mandatory vaccines are absolutely useless and in many cases dangerous, not to say damaging”. With these words, the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini decided on June 22 to weigh in about the delicate issue of vaccination. The Northern League leader was referring to the healthcare law strongly wished by the former Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin, supported by the Democratic Party and finally approved under the previous government.
The Lorenzin law
This reform is still in force and states that all the kids between 0 and 16 years must take ten vaccines instead of the six previously established. The current measure is also considered an essential precondition for children admission to kindergarten and school.
Albeit the so-called Lorenzin law was introduced as a response to the spreading decrease in vaccination, a trend that led the herd immunity rate below the safety threshold, Salvini and the allied Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio have never clearly expressed their full endorsement to this health plan. However, given that both their parties were in opposition, their stance was seen as a mere political tactic dictated by the electoral circumstances. Apparently, instead, this is not the case, as they subsequently remarked that allowing kids to go to school represents their first priority.
A scientific reply
In response to Salvini’s remarks, the popular doctor Roberto Burioni replied on his Facebook page: “No, Minister Salvini, ten vaccines are not useless, and even less dangerous. They are the same vaccines that are used in the same way and timing in the rest of the world. They are the same vaccines that save lives all over the globe, in complete safety. The same ones protecting you, as well as your kids, your voters and all the Italian citizens you have the duty to protect.” And he continued: “You told a lie, but a very dangerous one. And I am really concerned that the man who said that is the same one who has the responsibility for the safety of my country”.
The Health Minister’s point of view
The point raised by Burioni is that Salvini is not the Health Minister, nor a doctor. Thus, he does not have any kind of competence to intervene in this matter, as he may also influence a relevant segment of the population. For this reason, the current Health Minister, Giulia Grillo, reminded her colleague that vaccination is a matter of her ministry. Her position is in line with that of her party, the Five Star Movement, officially not anti-vaccine but at the same time against the obligation. According to her, parents should be free to decide for their kids, guided by correct information as promoted by the government.
Another avoidable tragic death
This stance seems to be contradictory on the ground that mandation is the only way to guarantee the full immunization of the population. That is why the father of a six-years-old little girl, after her recent and tragic death of meningitis, sent this message to Salvini: “The decision should not be up to parents, vaccination must be mandatory. If you were in my situation, as a dad, I am not sure you would still say that vaccines are useless”.