Mandatory Vaccination for Infants and Children: The Italian Experience

Pathog Glob Health. 2019 Oct;113(7):291-296. doi: 10.1080/20477724.2019.1705021. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Maintaining high vaccination coverage is important in order to protect the individual and the community. Mandatory vaccination is an option in case of declining coverage. Widely used in the USA, it is considered a rather controversial issue in Europe. In Italy, after a decrease of vaccination coverage for the hexavalent and the MPR vaccine under the optimal threshold, a new law, which extended the number of mandatory vaccines from 4 to 10 and reinforced coercive measures, was introduced in July 2017. After 2 years, vaccination coverage increased for all mandatory vaccines and for the other two recommended vaccines (anti-pneumococcal and anti-meningococcal C). Although it is not possible to disentangle the role of other factors contributing to the positive outcome, consistently with the results of studies conducted in the USA, vaccine mandates appeared to be successful in increasing vaccination coverage in Italy. The long-term sustainability of the effect of mandatory vaccination and the potential negative drawbacks of the coercive measures need to be evaluated to generate scientific evidence in public health.

Keywords: Italy; Mandatory vaccination; recommended vaccines; vaccine coverage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Italy
  • Mandatory Programs / economics
  • Mandatory Programs / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Preventive Medicine / economics
  • Preventive Medicine / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Vaccination / economics
  • Vaccination / legislation & jurisprudence*