Reader question: Can foreigners in Italy get the Covid-19 vaccine?

As Italy aims to speed up its rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, non-Italian citizens living here are asking about their right to be vaccinated.

Reader question: Can foreigners in Italy get the Covid-19 vaccine?
Photo: AFP
Question: I’m a non-Italian resident in Italy and I am not able to register with the Italian national health service. Will I be entitled to a vaccine and, if so, how can I access it?

What rights non-Italian residents in Italy have when it comes to getting vaccinated for Covid-19 has been a big question among readers of The Local.

People are anxious to know whether distinctions will be made between those registered with Italy’s national health service (SSN) and those access healthcare via the S1 system, or have private health insurance.

Here’s what we know so far.

Who is entitled to be vaccinated in Italy?

Vaccination is expected to be made available for free to all residents of Italy, including those who are not registered with the Italian national health service (SSN), as is the case for all other mandatory or recommended vaccines.

Health Undersecretary Sandra Zampa told Italian media on January 27th that, in order to achieve “herd immunity”, the country needs to vaccinate 70 percent of “Italian citizens and foreigners who live in our country, and who have the same right to protection.”

The Italian Medicines Agency FAQ says that “everyone present in the Italian territory, residents, with or without a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit)” can be vaccinated.

CHARTS: How many people has Italy vaccinated so far?

Photo: AFP

Some regions, including Lazio and Abruzzo, have confirmed that members of the public will be allowed to register via their online booking systems using just a codice fiscale (tax code), without having to enter details of a tessera sanitaria (national health service card).

And it is not possible to get vaccinated privately in Italy.

The Health Ministry has stressed that Covid-19 vaccines should be free for all residents in Italy, and it does not currently allow any private facilities to offer them on a paid basis.

When can I get the vaccine?

The vaccine is not yet available to the general public at the time of writing.

The large majority of those vaccinated in Italy so far are health workers and other key workers, as well as over-80s.

But after hold-ups in the supply chain, Italy is still in the early stages of its vaccine rollout.

READ ALSO: How and when can you get a Covid-19 vaccine in Italy?

So far, a registration procedure for people further down the list has yet to be confirmed.

More details are expected to be given in the coming weeks.

The Italian government is working on a national vaccination platform where the public can register for a jab online and/or via an app, but it is not yet operational. Meanwhile some regions are launching their own systems for booking appointments digitally.

Ultimately Italy plans to offer vaccination to the general public on a walk-in basis at pop-up kiosks in town centres around the country, but this won’t be possible until vaccines that don’t require specialised storage facilities are approved for use.

For more information about the coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. I just went to check at the Italian Medicines Agency website and it seems that it is more complicated than this article suggests.

    Here’s the optimistic text that The Local refers to:
    “According to the priority scheme defined in the Vaccination Plan, all people will be vaccinated who are present on the Italian territory, residents with or without a residence permit pursuant to Article 35 of Consolidated Law on Immigration.”

    But here’s the text that follows, which indicates that a tessera sanitaria and other documents are required:

    “A valid identity document and health card (tessera sanitaria) are required. It may be useful to show any health documentation helping the vaccinating healthcare professional to assess the person’s physical condition.

    9. Which documents are required for socially-vulnerable (Italian and foreign) people to receive the vaccine?
    Based on Article 32 of the Italian Constitution and pursuant to the provisions of Article 35 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration, the required documents comprise any document (including expired ones) stating the identity of the person receiving the vaccine, the health card (tessera sanitaria), the European Health Insurance Card, the STP code (straniero temporaneamente presente – Temporarily present foreign person) and the ENI code (Europeo non iscritto – Non registered European citizen).”

    Here is the link
    Best wishes,
    Karen Bermann

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Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

Italy has extended the availability of a second Covid-19 vaccine booster shot as infection rates surge across the country.

Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

The Italian health ministry announced that fourth Covid vaccine doses, or second booster shots, will soon be available to all residents aged 60 and over, as national medicines regulator Aifa gave the green light on Monday.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday that doses could be administered to this age group “immediately”, as Italy “moves in line” with recommendations from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“In the coming hours, immediately, already today, we will adapt our guidelines, our circulars and our indications. We will immediately open up administration in our regions.

“We mustn’t think that the battle against Covid is won. It is still ongoing and we must keep the level of caution high,” he said.

The health ministry confirmed in an update on its website that second booster doses were now recommended to “all persons aged 60 years or older, provided there has been an interval of at least 120 days since the first booster dose or the last post-booster infection (date of positive diagnostic test)”.

READ ALSO: Fourth jabs and isolation: Italy’s plan to control Covid cases this summer

The availability of fourth doses will vary by region, as each local health authority is responsible for managing the timing of its own vaccination campaign.

Several regions, including Lazio (around Rome) and Lombardy (around Milan), said on Monday that they would allow over-60s to book their fourth jabs within the coming days.

A fourth dose can be booked as usual, via pharmacies or family doctors, and via regional booking websites where available. (Find more information in a separate article here.)

Speranza didn’t say when second booster shots may be rolled out to all age groups, stating only that “a new vaccination campaign” is set to begin in September.

Health authorities have previously said they are not planning to make a fourth dose mandatory, though an annual “top-up” shot is likely to be offered.

Until now, only over-80s, care home residents, and clinically vulnerable patients have been eligible for a fourth shot in Italy.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

But health experts are also urging the government to speed up the administration of fourth jabs to these vulnerable groups: uptake remains far lower than hoped so far, with 78 percent of over-80s not getting theirs yet.

With the coronavirus infection rate now at its highest level since February, and the number of hospitalisations expected to keep rising in the coming weeks, the health ministry has not said whether it plans to bring back any recently-scrapped health measures.

For now, the government’s strategy appears to be focused on maintaining the relatively high rate of vaccination coverage in Italy: 90 percent of the population over 12 years old has been fully vaccinated with at least two doses, official figures show.

Find out more about booking a booster shot in Italy in a separate article here. See the government’s ‘prenotazione vaccino‘ (vaccine booking) website for links to regional authorities’ appointment reservation platforms.