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Italian Politician Who Opposes Mandatory Vaccination Gets Chicken Pox

© AP Photo / Achmad IbrahimA health official prepares one of many vaccine injections.
A health official prepares one of many vaccine injections. - Sputnik International
Massimiliano Fedriga, a senior politician in Italy's Northern League party was diagnosed with chicken pox last week, after describing Italy’s mandatory vaccination laws as “Stalinist.”

According to multiple reports, Fedriga spent four days at a hospital after being diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus, which starts with an itchy, blister-like rash on the skin. 

In 2017, Italy introduced legislation that made vaccinations against 10 diseases, including polio, measles and chickenpox, compulsory and imposed a fine of up to ‎€500 ($566) for parents who refused to vaccinate their children before the age of six.

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The move came after an outbreak of measles in Italy and in the Balkans hit thousands of people. With 5,004 cases of measles registered in 2017, Italy accounted for 34 percent of the cases reported in the European Economic Area, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Measles, which can develop into pneumonia and cause brain swelling resulting in death, is easily prevented with the MMR vaccine.

In a post on Facebook, Fedriga nonetheless asserted that he is not a supporter of the "anti-vax" movement. 

"I'm reading a series of celebratory comments on Twitter because I've been hospitalized. I have always said that I am in favor of vaccines, but to achieve the result it is necessary to have an alliance with families not imposition. They even said I would get chicken pox from my children, not knowing that my children are vaccinated, as I have stated in interviews," he wrote.

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In a 2018 interview with local media, Fedriga described Italy's Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD) as "Stalinist" for implementing mandatory vaccination laws in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccine hesitancy, which it defines as the "reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines," has greatly increased the global threat posed by vaccine-preventable diseases

"Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease — it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved," WHO writes on its website.

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