When measles kills, the responsibility lies with all of us: Professor Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of Humanitas and lecturer at Humanitas University, is supporting us in an editorial in La Stampa.

In recent days, we have heard of a child suffering from leukemia who died after contracting measles. The little patient was in treatment at the San Gerardo of Monza, whose director of Pediatrics is Professor Andrea Biondi, friend and colleague of Professor Mantovani.

The child had 85% chance of healing from leukemia but died from measles complications. A case similar to many others, unfortunately. “This must not happen again,” Professor Mantovani points out. We have a valuable weapon for combating tragedies like this and they are vaccines. Almost three thousand measles have been recorded in Italy since the beginning of the year and about 30% of these have needed hospitalization.


A shared responsibility

“After this senseless death, one seeks a guilty person,” says Professor Mantovani. But who is to blame? Parents who are against vaccination? “It is harmful to point the finger at parents, who deserve our solidarity. It is also unlikely that it was the brothers who infected the child and it makes no sense to blame the doctors: “Let us remember how many children have been saved in recent months. More than 180 young patients under one year of age, often in poor health,” the professor specifies.

Who is responsible, then? “Better to talk about those responsible. As a community we are all a bit guilty, because by bringing the vaccination coverage below the security threshold we have lost the flock immunity – or immunity of the community, as I prefer to call it – which limits the spread of the virus and also protects the unvaccinated, because perhaps they can not vaccinate, as the case of affection with leukemia.


Too many lies about vaccines

According to Professor Mantovani, however, “Someone is more responsible than others. This is the case for those who spread lies about vaccine-related damage: the link with autism, drowsiness after the vaccine against papilloma virus, the non-existent link between hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis. This is the case of those who have believed these lies, to the point that parents are increasingly reluctant to have their children vaccinated. “Let us not forget, then, that we have taken controversial political positions and judgments.

“I myself, a strong supporter of vaccinations, take my responsibility: because if doctors do not have a clear role for vaccines, it is also the fault of those who, like me, teach at university. That is why I teach a lesson in my course at Humanitas University on the importance and social responsibility of vaccinations, and I repeat these concepts in high schools,” says Prof. Mantovani.


What is to be done?

The professor reaffirms the importance of the obligation to vaccinate by law and stresses that this must be accompanied by training and information: the public, doctors and pediatricians. Everyone is called upon to play their part. “I am convinced that if each of us does his part, we could put an end to this emergency, protecting ourselves and also those who are weaker”, concluded Professor Alberto Mantovani.