Italy has vaccinated more than one million people against Covid-19

More than a million people in Italy have received the vaccine against Covid-19, the latest figures published by the Health Ministry show.

Italy has vaccinated more than one million people against Covid-19
Photo: AFP
“A heartfelt thanks to citizens and our national health service for the extraordinary response,” wrote Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Facebook on Friday.
“Italy is first in the EU for the number of people vaccinated. An encouraging statistic,” he wrote.
On the evening of January 15th, a total of 1,039,366 vaccinations have been administered in Italy – or 69 percent of the doses that had been delivered by that date. 
Italy's latest vaccination data, both regional and national, is being continuously updated on this website.
Italy is prioritising medical workers and elderly care home residents for the vaccine against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and it is not yet available to the general public.
Italy's government said it was confident most of the population could be vaccinated by September, Reuters reports.

Scientists estimate that 60-90 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated – possibly every year – to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus and stop future outbreaks.

However some Italian regions appear to be making faster progress than others.

The Campania region has administered 92 percent of the 101,100 doses it has available, and Veneto has administered 78 percent of its 116,900 doses. Calabria, Italy's poorest region, has the lowest vaccination rate at 39 percent of its 39,200 doses.

As of yet, there's no data on how many people, if any, have received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine required to get full immunity.

Pfizer-BioNTech recommend giving the second dose between 21 and 28 days after the first dose.

Authorities stressed that vaccines would not be immediately distributed to the general population in Italy.

Doctors and other health care workers will get the first doses (some 1.4 million people) along with residents in care homes – just over 570,000 people. the health ministry has said.

Those aged over 80 will be next in line, followed by those aged 60-79, and those suffering from at least one chronic disease.

Vaccines will then be distributed to key workers – teachers, police, prison wardens 

After that, it will be offered to the general population at walk-in centres and specially-designed kiosks.

While the government plans to have up to 1,500 vaccination kiosks built in time for the roll-out of the vaccine to the general population, data shows there are currently 293 distribution points across Italy.

Health authorities say members of the public will be contacted when the vaccine is made available to their age group in their region.

The vaccine will be free, and will not be obligatory.

The Local has asked for official confirmation that the vaccine will be free to all residents of Italy regardless of citizenship or registration with the SSN (National Health Service).

All current mandatory or recommended vaccines are available to everyone living in the country – including those not registered with the SSN.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”