An Italian politician who vocally opposed a new law making some childhood vaccinations mandatory was recently hospitalized after contracting chickenpox.
Massimiliano Fedriga, a senior member of the far-right League party, was placed under observation for four days earlier this month after contracting the vaccine-preventable disease, local news outlets reported.
Observers were quick to point out the irony of the situation. Fedriga, president of the northeastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, had vehemently opposed the introduction of the so-called Lorenzin law; that measure made it compulsory for school-aged children to be immunized against several diseases, including chickenpox, measles and polio, The Independent reported.
Under the law, which was fiercely debated in Italy before its enforcement this month, parents can be fined up to $560 for sending their unvaccinated children to school. Kindergartens and nursery schools can also turn away children under the age of six who aren’t properly immunized.
Fedriga, who’d previously slammed the Lorenzin law as “Stalinist,” said on Friday that he’d seen a “series of celebratory comments on Twitter because I’ve been hospitalized.”
Lambasting his critics, the politician insisted that he was not a so-called “anti-vaxxer” and had, in fact, vaccinated his children.
“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,” he said in a Facebook post.
Roberto Burioni, a prominent Italian microbiologist, said on social media last week that he hoped Fedriga’s hospitalization will be a wake-up call to adults who are unwilling to be vaccinated.
Chickenpox is a ”contagious” and “dangerous” disease, Burioni wrote on Facebook.
Fedriga, “like many adults, did not get vaccinated [against chickenpox]… if he had been vaccinated as an adult he would be in perfect health,” the doctor said.
“If he had infected a pregnant woman we would be facing a malformed child or an abortion,” Burioni continued. “The only way we have to avoid such tragedies is to inoculate everyone to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus, which could have hit a more vulnerable person.”