Italian parents investigated after unvaccinated child catches tetanus

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Italian parents investigated after unvaccinated child catches tetanus
An anti-tetanus vaccine. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Prosecutors in Turin are considering charging a couple with injury by negligence after they failed to vaccinate their daughter against tetanus and she went on to contract the infection.


The girl, seven, was rushed to the Regina Margherita Paediatric Hospital last October suffering from convulsions and was diagnosed with tetanus – a rare disease in Italy, where it has been compulsory to vaccinate children against it for the past 50 years.

It emerged that neither she nor her ten-month-old brother had received shots for tetanus or any other of the 12 diseases that Italy requires all school-age children to be vaccinated against.

While her parents said they were not part of Italy’s growing “anti-vax” movement, they said they were worried about potential side effects of vaccinations, according to La Repubblica.

Turin prosecutors are now weighing whether to open a case against them for negligent injury. They will first seek to establish whether the girl could have contracted tetanus if she had received the vaccination and whether it has permanently damaged her health, Il Secolo XIX said.

The girl was discharged after three weeks in hospital; both she and her brother have since been vaccinated.

Vaccines have been a hot topic in Italy since the government last year upped the number of mandatory vaccinations from four to 12 and made them a prerequisite for any children enrolling at state schools.

While public health experts praised the law, anti-vaccine activists vehemently oppose it. Two of Italy’s largest populist parties, the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, made scrapping the legislation one of their promises to voters ahead of the general election on March 4th.

Italy was one of the countries where discredited claims of a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism had a significant impact on public perceptions of the safety of the jab. The “anti-vax” movement is thought to be one of the causes of a drastic increase in measles cases, which rose almost sixfold across Italy in 2017. 



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