Ah Italy. Behind the times in so many ways. While you may be in the forefront when it comes to high-end fashion, the cultural fashions that sweep the privileged world are always late in arriving to your shores. You might think that, given the tardiness you would be more inclined to look them over and sort out the good ones from the bad, but sadly they all eventually seem to make it over.
In this case, I am referring to the anti-vaccination fad that has been spreading, and killing, ever since the notorious Andrew Wakefield paper linking autism to the MMR vaccine. While there were anti-vaxxers before then, that was when the idea really got put on (organic and gluten-free, I’m sure) steroids. That was 1998, but it has only been in the past few years that the movement really started to gain traction in Italy as well.
Italian culture is a very hypochondriac one, so the issue of people not getting their kids vaccinated was never really raised until now. Some vaccines are obligatory by law, others are “highly recommended” but can be obligatory in some schools, though no one really knew the difference or made a fuss about it. When my mother moved here she was not told which were absolutely obligatory and which she could get away with not giving me, she was simply told that kids in Italy had to get all their vaccinations and that’s that.
But as I said fads, even the dangerous ones, eventually make it over here as well. So, the bad news, or the good news first?
Let’s start with the bad news, as people usually do.
The bad news is, the anti-vaxx movement has gained so much traction in Italy that the Senate was scheduled to watch the absolutely ridiculous anti-vaxx movie directed by the same disgraced Andrew Wakefield Vaxxed: from cover up to catastrophe. This was clearly an attempt to (mis)inform the Senate, so that they will revisit Italy’s strict laws on vaccination.
The good news is that, the moment this was announced, the national health service raised such an uproar that the President of the Senate was swayed and killed the scheduled projection.
The further bad news is: some are upset at the decision.
But that’s fine. Let them protest, and yell about it. There might be a silver lining to this story afterall. The fact is, many Italians just never really thought about vaccinations much before now. It was just something your doctor told you to do and you did it. However, Italian culture also includes a profound mistrust of the government, and that makes the uninformed citizenry easy targets for misinformation perpetuated by anti-vaxxers who, until now, were largely lurking in the shadows and in some corners on the internet. Now though, if this becomes big enough news, the anti-vaccination movement will finally get a spotlight shone on it, with news segments and television specials dedicated to informing the public about just how anti-scientific and ludicrous the whole thing actually is. If the anti-vaxxers made it to Italy then so be it, let’s talk about it, and they will soon find that spotlight actually shines very bright on all those flaws and holes in their arguments.