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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Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.