If you're registered with the national health service, you can choose a paediatrician (pediatra) from a list at your local ASL. Paediatricians generally treat children up to the age of 14 (although some parents prefer to use their family doctor). Children are given a vaccination record booklet (libretto delle vaccinazioni) and are required to have vaccinations against diphtheria and tetanus (antidifterico-tetanica or DT),polio(antipolio) and hepatitis B (antiepatite B) at three months, with boosters at 5 and 11 months. A polio booster is required at three years, and diphtheria and tetanus just before entry into primary school. A booster for hepatitis B is necessary at the age of 12. Vaccinations are provided free of charge and are compulsory.
Although not compulsory, vaccinations against whooping-cough, measles, mumps, German measles and HIB (which can cause serious illnesses such as meningitis) are also recommended. A whooping-cough vaccination (anitpertosse) can be administered in combination with the diphtheria and tetanus vaccinations (called DTP). Some doctors recommend a multiple vaccination (called MPR) against measles (morbillo), mumps (parotite) and German measles (rosolia), between the age of 12 and 15 months, although it has been suggested that this vaccination can cause autism.
Italian hospitals have paediatric units where children aged up to 17 are treated. Wards are usually well stocked with games, toys, books and other children, and facilities are provided for one parent (usually the mother) to stay overnight. Mothers with children under one year must usually provide milk, bottled drinking water (if required), nappies and changes of clothes, although food is provided. Children requiring long-term hospitalisation are usually given school lessons in hospital by volunteer teachers.
When you are travelling in Italy, you should take proof of your
children's immunisations with you, with official translations obtainable from Italian consulates.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.