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The Italian government has created a new law making vaccinations mandatory for all school children. Before starting school, all parents must now provide proof that their children have been vaccinated. If parents fail to vaccinate their children, they could face fines of up to €500.

This new law comes after an outbreak of the measles occurred in several countries around the world. The measles had been nearly eradicated for many years now but has returned because of a failure to vaccinate children.

Italy’s new law has been named after the former health minister who introduced it, the Lorenzin law. It makes it mandatory for children to be immunised for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella before attending school. The law means that children under six can be turned away from school. Children six to sixteen can attend but their parents will receive substantial fines.

The current health minister, Giulia Grillo, has said, “No vaccine, no school”.

Italy’s vaccination rates have plummeted to below 80% in recent years. The purpose of the new law is to rectify that and reach 95%, the World Health Organisation’s target rate. This 95% figure is described as the point at which “herd immunity” is achieved. Herd immunity is when the spread of disease becomes unlikely and therefore protects those who cannot be given vaccines. For instance, newborn babies, those who are too ill or those with weak immune systems.

There has been a growing anti-vaccination movement around the world in recent years. This has alarmed the World Health Organisation. This movement originated out of fear when a now-discredited paper was published. The paper was written by a former doctor named Andrew Wakefield and claimed vaccinations cause certain diseases in children. Wakefield was banned from practising medicine after his research was found to be fraudulent. No other studies have ever been able to replicate his results.

Difficult words

Vaccination:  A treatment used to fight diseases.

Outbreak: A sudden occurrence that affects many people.

Eradicate: To end or destroy completely.

Immunise: Make a person unable to catch a disease.

Plummet: For something to fall rapidly.

Rectify: To make something better.

Herd: A group of animals or people.

Immune System: A system in the body that fights infections.

Discredit: To prove something is wrong or false.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: 

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Vaccination A. Breakout
2. Outbreak B. Fall
3. Eradicate C. Disgrace
4. Immunise D. Fights infections in the body
5. Plummet E. Group
6. Rectify F. Treatment against disease
7. Herd G. Correct
8. Immune System H. End
9. Discredit I. Shield from disease

True or False?

1. The Spanish government has made a new law about vaccines. T / F

2. Parents do not need to provide any documentation proving vaccinations. T / F

3.  If parents do not comply with the law, they may face large fines. T / F

4. The measles has returned because people are not utilising vaccines. T / F

5. The new law was named after Italy’s president. T / F

6. All children without vaccinations will be banned from school. T / F

7. Italy’s vaccination rates have fallen in recent years. T / F

8. The World Health Organisation’s target still means most people can be in danger of disease.  T / F

9. Some people have a fear of vaccines. T / F

10. The doctor who wrote the discredited paper is still practicing medicine today. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. a / Italian / law / government / new / The / created / has

2. the / measles / an / outbreak / after / of / new / comes / law / This

3. nearly / The / been / measles / eradicated / had

4. it / to / It / makes / children / mandatory / for / be / immunised

5. rates / have / plummeted / Italy’s / vaccination

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: 

American English:

Fail Immunised Originated
Occurred Spread Mandatory
Substantial Claimed Purpose

The Italian government has created a new law making vaccinations ________________ for all school children. Before starting school, all parents must now provide proof that their children have been vaccinated. If parents ______ to vaccinate their children, they could face fines of up to €500.

This new law comes after an outbreak of the measles _______________ in several countries around the world. The measles had been nearly eradicated for many years now but has returned because of a failure to vaccinate children.

Italy’s new law has been named after the former health minister who introduced it, the Lorenzin law. It makes it mandatory for children to be _______________ for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella before attending school. The law means that children under six can be turned away from school. Children six to sixteen can attend but their parents will receive _______________ fines.

The current health minister, Giulia Grillo, has said, “No vaccine, no school”.

Italy’s vaccination rates have plummeted to below 80% in recent years. The ____________ of the new law is to rectify that and reach 95%, the World Health Organisation’s target rate. This 95% figure is described as the point at which “herd immunity” is achieved. Herd immunity is when the _______________ of disease becomes unlikely and therefore protects those who cannot be given vaccines. For instance, newborn babies, those who are too ill or those with weak immune systems.

There has been a growing anti-vaccination movement around the world in recent years. This has alarmed the World Health Organisation. This movement ______________ out of fear when a now-discredited paper was published. The paper was written by a former doctor named Andrew Wakefield and ______________ vaccinations cause certain diseases in children. Wakefield was banned from practising medicine after his research was found to be fraudulent. No other studies have ever been able to replicate his results.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Are vaccinations required in your country?
5. Did you have vaccinations?
6. Do you think everyone should get vaccinations?
7. What do you think about people who don’t vaccinate their children?
8. Do you think it’s okay for the government to make this law?
9. Is the anti-vaccination movement big in your country?
10. Should there be punishments for parents who don’t vaccinate their children?
11. How would you feel about unvaccinated children going to school with your own children?
12. Are there any requirements before you can send a child to school in your country?
13. Has there been any disease outbreaks in your country?
14. Are vaccinations free in your country?
15. How do you react to shots or injections?
16. Do you think vaccinations contribute to overpopulation?
17. Do you think vaccinations are a good use of government money?
18. Do you think new diseases will appear in the future that we need vaccinations for?
19. How would your country be affected without vaccinations?
20. What do you think about the doctor who wrote the fraudulent paper?