The Italian government began rolling out a third dose of Covid vaccines on Monday, aimed at some 3 million vulnerable members of society such as those with compromised immune systems.
So far, 6,803 people have received the additional dose, equivalent to 0.73 percent of those eligible for the vaccine recall, according to the latest figures.
Following the initial wave of third dose vaccinations to the most vulnerable, Italy plans to target health care workers and the over 80s with the additional dose when the Scientific Technical Committee (CTS) gives the green light.
As Italy’s vaccination campaign nears its targets, extraordinary commissioner for the emergency General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, told reporters that those who are against getting vaccinated should learn more about it.
“To those who are wary of the vaccine, I say, inform yourself, no one wants to force you,” he said.
Figliuolo advised people to “get information, ask doctors and nurses, those who see the suffering of Covid in hospitals”.
He nodded to the Covid death toll in Italy of over 130,000 and the “people who bear the marks of long Covid”.
“We have to protect those around us, we cannot be selfish,” he added.
When eligible members of the population can get a third dose depends on when they received their second shot.
For immunosuppressed people, the third vaccine can be administered 28 days after the second dose – and should be given as soon as possible after that point, according to the health ministry’s latest guidance.
Boosters for all other categories, meanwhile, should be administered at least six months after the second immunisation.
The emergency commissioner pointed to the amount of young people getting vaccinated as “a great lesson”, noting that the 20-29 age group has “rushed en masse to get vaccinated”.
Almost 72 percent of this age group are now fully vaccinated, while over half of children between 12-19 years old have now completed their vaccination cycle.
As the new school year is underway, authorities are looking at the possibility of vaccinations for younger children.
Pfizer announced on Monday that trials had found its Covid-19 vaccine was safe for use on 5-11 year-olds.
The Italian Society of Paediatrics (ISP) stated that it was “pleased” to hear the announcement, but urged caution because “this assessment must be confirmed by the regulatory agencies responsible for assessing the validity of the trial”, Italian media reports.
In total, Italy has administered 82,670,260 Covid vaccine doses, with over 76 percent of the population now fully vaccinated according to government figures on Tuesday.