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Vaccination rates rise in Italy and France after law change

Nations increased the number of compulsory immunizations for infants.

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Vaccinating a newborn baby

Infants in France and Italy are required by law to get 11 and 10 immunizations, respectively.Credit: B. Boissonnet/Alamy

Vaccination coverage in France and Italy has increased following the expansion of mandatory vaccination laws, according to two analyses.

Both countries already required children to receive diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations. Italy also mandated immunization against hepatitis B.

France — home to one of the highest rates of vaccine mistrust in Europe — made eight additional vaccines mandatory for babies born from 2018 onwards, including vaccines against hepatitis B, pneumonia and meningococcal C diseases.

Source: Ref. 1

A preliminary analysis1 of the law’s impact found that rates of these vaccinations were higher among babies born in the first five months of 2018 than among those born in the same period in the previous year (see ‘Mandatory vaccines’).

The number of infants who received the first dose of the meningococcal C vaccine jumped by more than 36%, for example. This increase was related to a drop in the number of cases of meningitis C, from a yearly average of 17 between 2012 and 2016 to 4 in 2018.

Meanwhile, Italy made another six vaccines mandatory in July 2017 after a large outbreak of measles that affected more than 4,000 Italians. The second paper found that coverage of these immunizations increased: for example, in 2016, just 87% of 2-year-olds were vaccinated against measles, but by mid-2018 that number had risen to 94% among 30-month-old children.

Both countries also saw increased uptake of vaccines that were not mandatory. The authors say this might be because of concurrent information campaigns highlighting the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations.

The studies were published in June in Eurosurveillance, a journal of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02193-4

References

  1. 1.

    Lévy-Bruhl, D. et al. Euro Surveill. 24, 1900301 (2019).

  2. 2.

    D'Ancona, F. et al. Euro Surveill. 24, 1900371 (2019).

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