Over half of Italy is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19

Italy has fully vaccinated more than half its population over 12, putting it on track to reach its target of achieving herd immunity against Covid-19 by the end of September.

Over half of Italy is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19
A vaccination hub at Termini train station in Rome. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Over 27.1 million people had been fully vaccinated by July 19th, according to the government’s official tally, the equivalent of 50.2 percent of the total population aged 12 and up.

Italy administered between 3.7 million and 3.9 million shots in each of the past six weeks, taking the total number of jabs so far to 61.5 million.

The country’s goal is to vaccinate 80 percent of over-12s by the end of September, or some 54.3 million people.

The vast majority of the shots currently being administered are second doses, which means that progress has slowed reaching people who have not yet had a single injection. 

That may change if the Italian government expands the use of its Covid-19 health pass, as it is expected to do this week. 

The change could make showing a digital ‘green pass’ compulsory to access domestic flight, long-distance trains, nightclubs, gyms, sports stadiums and even possible indoor seating in restaurants. 

READ ALSO: Italy set to announce expanded ‘green pass’ scheme this week

While the certificate is also available to anyone who has tested negative for coronavirus in the past 48 hours or recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, getting vaccinated is the easiest way to access a pass that won’t quickly expire. Italy currently makes its pass available 15 days after the first dose of a vaccine, even if a second is required.

Italian health authorities have said that extending the health pass scheme could be a useful way to give unvaccinated people an extra incentive to book a jab, though the main purpose is thought to be avoiding reinstating blanket restrictions during the peak summer holiday season.

According to the government’s latest weekly report, around 7 percent of Italy’s over-80s still have not had even one shot, rising to 12 percent for people in their 70s, 18 percent for 60 to 69-year-olds, and 26 percent of people in their 50s.

While vaccination is compulsory for healthcare workers, at least 2 percent have not had either dose. Nor have 15 percent of people working in schools, prompting some health experts to call for vaccination to also be made mandatory for teachers.

Italy’s goal is to “vaccinate all Italians who want it with the first dose by the end of the summer”, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in June.

Find more information about booking a vaccination here, including how to book without a health card

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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.