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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italy to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for over 50s

The Italian government passed a decree on Wednesday night that will make it mandatory for all over 50s to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country battles record infection rates.

A health worker administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
A health worker administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen) against the Covid-19, on August 5, 2021 at the Ambreck pharmacy, in Milan, during a vaccination campaign on people over 60 years. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

“The government voted unanimously to gave the green light a new decree that will make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all over 50s,” the ANSA news agency reported.

“We want to slow down the curve of contagion and encourage Italians who have not yet been vaccinated to do so,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said during a cabinet meeting at which the measure was adopted, according to a statement.

“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalised, to reduce pressure on hospital to save lives,” he added.

The new decree obliges people over 50 who do not work to get vaccinated, and those who do work to obtain a vaccine pass — which effectively covers all over 50s.

The new measure makes Italy one of very few European countries to make vaccination compulsory for a section of the general public. Austria announced in November it would make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory from February in a bid to tackle low vaccination rates.

Italy’s healthcare staff, police, teachers and emergency services workers are already subject to a vaccination mandate.

In another statement, the government said that “the vaccine pass (super green pass) will be necessary for people over 50 in the public and private sectors to access their workplace from February 15th.”

The ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass health certificate, which proves vaccination or recovery, has already been made compulsory for access to almost all leisure, social or sporting activities in the country.

The obligation will be effective until June 15th, according to an earlier draft version of the decree.

READ ALSO: How will Italy enforce its vaccine mandate for over-50s?

Italy has reported record Covid infections in recent days with another 189,000 cases registered on Wednesday.

Out of Italy’s 59 million people, 28 million are over the age of 50, according to the Istat national statistics agency.

Late last month the government said that from January 10th a “super green pass” would be required to use public transport and access hotels, restaurant terraces and gyms.

Previously a green pass giving proof of vaccination — or a recent negative test — had been required.

A total of 1.4 people are currently positive in the country.

Italy was the European country first hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and still has one of the highest death tolls, at more than 138,000.

Member comments

  1. So what if a person refuses? Jail? Tie them down and inject them? I’m sorry but this is crazy, especially given the fact that deaths in Italy are 1/5 what they were last winter and at the beginning of the pandemic, and will likely taper off as omicron takes over.

    1. Agreed, it’s crazy. We’re doing so much better than a year ago in terms of deaths so there’s no reason to introduce more authoritarian policies. Cases don’t matter if deaths are low.

      Plus this shot doesn’t even stop “vaccinated” people getting sick and spreading it to others, it just reduces symptoms, so why would we force anyone to get it? Do we really not believe in bodily autonomy anymore? I thought my body my choice was an accepted moral value of our society. The whole argument that you get the shot to protect other people went out the window when we learned 6 months ago that this shot did nothing to stop transmission. Now it is truly is a personal medical choice that people have a right to make privately.

  2. Hilarious that the photo above shows someone getting the J&J vaccine. Meanwhile the CDC in the US is now recommending getting Pfizer or Moderna instead because of blood clot risk associated with J&J. I guess we’ll learn as we go.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

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.

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