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COVID-19 VACCINES

Covid-19: How many people in Italy still aren’t vaccinated?

As new coronavirus variants spread and infections climb for the first time in weeks, Italy's vaccination campaign is well underway but far from finished. Here's who is still waiting to be vaccinated and how Italy is doing compared to other countries in Europe.

Covid-19: How many people in Italy still aren't vaccinated?
(Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Due to the growing spread of the Delta variant, the infection rate in Italy is rising after 15 weeks of falling figures, according to the latest weekly monitoring report by the Higher Health Institute (ISS).

However, most of the country’s new coronavirus infections can be attributed to those who are unvaccinated or have only had the first dose, said the ISS.

With far fewer cases reported in fully vaccinated people, “the differences observed suggest that vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of infection, hospitalisation, ICU entry and death”, it said.

READ ALSO: Italian health minister urges caution as Delta variant fuels increase in new cases

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

The institute estimated that full vaccination is about 80 percent effective in protecting against infection and up to 100 percent effective against the most serious consequences of the disease in all age groups.

But there’s still a considerable number of people in Italy who are unvaccinated or yet to receive their first dose.

READ ALSO: ‘It seems to depend on luck’: Foreigners in Italy continue to report problems getting Covid vaccines 

Just over 44 percent of the Italian population over 12 years old have now been fully vaccinated, according to the latest government figures.

That leaves more than half of the population still vulnerable to infection.

And some of the most fragile are still waiting for their jab: 7.4 percent of Italy’s elderly population, the over-80s, haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t yet received their first dose.

In this age group, 35 percent of diagnoses, 59 percent of hospitalisations, 78 percent of admissions to intensive care and 70 percent of deaths are related to people who have not received a single vaccine shot, according to the ISS.

In the 70-79 age group, some 12.6 percent are yet to receive their first dose or full single shot. This increases to 18.7 percent for the 60-69 year-olds.

Just 2.19 percent of Italy’s healthcare workers are still unvaccinated, after the government made vaccination compulsory for health professionals in contact with patients.

READ ALSO: Italian healthcare workers take government to court over mandatory Covid vaccinations

The percentage of school personnel yet to receive their first dose is 15.25 percent – a figure that backs health experts’ recommendations to maintain coronavirus measures in schools ahead of classes resuming in September.

The government’s advisory panel of scientific experts, the CTS, said last week that “the measures to be applied for the beginning of the school year 2021-2022 should be the same as those foreseen at the beginning of the previous school year”.

Just 6.37 percent of 12-19 year-olds have been fully vaccinated and 23.5 percent have received their first dose, but experts said it was “currently not possible to predict” how many pupils will have been vaccinated by September.

Some 47.5 percent of 20-29 year-olds have received their first dose, followed by 49.35 percent of 30-39 year-olds, 58.8 percent of 40-49 year-olds and 67.7 percent of the 50-59 age bracket.

Compared to the rest of Europe, Italy’s share of people who have received at least their first jab ranks above average.

In terms of getting infected after receiving both shots – or the single dose in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – the complete cycle of vaccination has an efficacy between 79.8 percent and 81.5 percent depending on the age group, the ISS report found.

The vaccination most administered in Italy is Pfizer/BioNTech followed by AstraZeneca, Moderna and lastly Johnson & Johnson. 

The average age of Covid-19 patients also fell, as older age groups were prioritised for their shots first. The average age of people admitted to hospital for the first time fell to 52 years old and the age of patients admitted into intensive care dropped to 63.

Italy continues to administer around half a million vaccine doses daily.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italy opens Covid booster jab bookings from Monday

Regional health services in Italy will open bookings for Covid-19 booster shots to priority groups from Monday as the first deliveries of updated vaccines arrived in the country.

Italy opens Covid booster jab bookings from Monday

“From Monday, September 12th, bookings for the new dual-strain vaccines can begin at the regional level,” said director general of the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), Nicola Magrini, at a health ministry press conference on Friday.

Booster shots will not be mandatory and will be offered to priority groups first, health authorities confirmed.

READ ALSO: Italy gives green light to new dual-strain Covid vaccines

“The arrival of the new vaccines should strengthen the conviction of those who have to take the fourth dose because of their age or because they have other conditions,” Magrini said. 

Aifa on Monday approved the Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) dual-strain vaccines, which are effective against both the original strain and the more recent Omicron variants.

Italy will receive 19 million doses of the new vaccines in September, said Franco Locatelli, president of Italy’s Higher Health Council (ISS), at the press conference. 

The updated vaccines have been shown to “generate an antibody response against the Omicron Ba4 and 5 variants, which are the prevalent ones,” he said.

They represent “96 percent of all strains isolated in Italy so far”, he said.

Italian healthcare workers preparing doses of Covid vaccine.

The new dual-strain vaccines will be offered first to at-risk patients, including people aged over 60 and care home residents. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Covid vaccines “have been a triumph of science and medicine” and “have saved millions of lives”, Locatelli added.

Booster jabs are currently recommended for those in higher-risk categories as Italy begins its autumn vaccination campaign.

Priority will be given to those who are still waiting to receive a second booster dose (the so-called fourth dose); therefore over-60s and people with health conditions that make them more susceptible to developing more severe forms of the Covid-19 disease, according to the latest memo from the health ministry.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

Magrini said the priority list also includes “health workers, pregnant women, and residents of facilities for the elderly”.

But “it can also be administered to those under 60 who ask for it,” he added.

Booster shots can only be administered to those who received their last dose at least 120 days (about four months) earlier.

The vaccination campaign is expected to be expanded to all over-12s who have only completed the initial vaccination cycle. For this category, the new booster shot would be their third dose.

How do you book a booster shot?

As in previous vaccination campaigns, each regional health authority will manage their own local vaccination programmes, including their timing.

Bookings should work in much the same way as before, with patients being able to book their appointments through GPs, pharmacies or their ASL’s website where available.

Shots can be administered by family doctors as well as at designated vaccination hubs in more densely populated areas.

The autonomous province of Trentino said it will begin administering jabs immediately from Monday and will allow residents to begin booking jabs from Saturday, September 10th.

Other regions and autonomous provinces are expected to announce their plans in the coming days.

For further information on availability and reservation in your region, see the official vaccination booking website.

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