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COVID-19 VACCINES

Over-50s in Italy without Covid booster face 100 euro fine

People aged 50 and over living in Italy could be fined 100 euros if they fail to get a booster shot within a specified timeframe, according to the country's latest set of Covid rules.

A medical worker prepares a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Vercelli, Piedmont, on April 15, 2021
A medical worker prepares a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Vercelli, Piedmont, on April 15, 2021 (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP).

Over-50s will require a ‘super green pass’ health certificate (showing the bearer is vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid) to enter their workplace from February 15th, while anyone (employed or not) in this age group who remains unvaccinated as of February 1st will be fined 100 euros, according to the government’s January 5th decree.

Those who do not get their booster shot could also face a 100-euro fine under the new vaccine mandate for over-50s.

The government hopes the requirement will prevent healthcare facilities from becoming overwhelmed by Covid cases, and allow the country to remain open as people return to work and school after the Christmas break.

“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalised, to reduce pressure on hospitals and to save lives,” said Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the cabinet meeting where the measure was adopted.

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

The new rules for the first time impose a vaccine requirement on anyone living in Italy aged 50 or over, or anyone due to turn 50 by June 15th (the date by which the mandate is currently due to expire).

The “one-off” 100-euro fines will be collected “automatically” by Italy’s Agenzie delle Entrate (Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency) based on data passed on from the country’s national health system, the health ministry confirmed in an update published on its official vaccination information site.

Those who are notified that they are in violation of the rules have ten days to communicate to their local health office (Azienda sanitaria locale or Asl), the reason for their vaccination status.

Certain categories of people, including those with certified medical conditions and those who have recovered from Covid in the past six months, are exempt from the requirement (though the Covid-recovered must get vaccinated once the six months are up).

The decree also specifies that the 100 euro fine applies to those who as of February 1st have not completed their primary vaccination cycle “in accordance with the instructions and within the timeframe provided in the Ministry of Health’s circular,” as well as those who haven’t received a booster shot within the required timeframe.

READ ALSO: Calendar: When do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change?

However, exactly what those timeframes are is left ambiguous.

For receiving a booster, the decree references previous laws which offer up both six months and nine months from the last shot as possible timeframes. For now, it’s safest to assume that you should get your booster shot within six months of your last dose to avoid the fine; this is how Italian news outlets such as il Quotidiano have interpreted the decree.

Booster shots are currently available to all adults in Italy four months after completion of the initial vaccination cycle. Find out how to book a booster shot in Italy here.

When it comes to the timeframe for completing the initial vaccination cycle, the decree text remains unclear and the government may be yet to issue further guidance. The Local is seeking clarification.

Regardless, those who have received or are shortly due to receive their primary dose should ensure they schedule their second dose within the timeframe recommended by the healthcare provider administering the shot.

In recent days Italy has seen record highs in its Covid infection rates, with over 196,000 new cases recorded on Wednesday, and hospitals have reported being inundated by patients suffering from Covid symptoms. Most of those hospitalised with the virus are unvaccinated and over the age of 50.

The latest records from the national statistics agency Istat show that 28 million people in Italy out of a total of 59 million residents – almost half the population – are over the age of 50.

Whilst Italy has one of highest Covid vaccination rates in Europe (74 percent of the entire population is fully jabbed) it’s estimated that around 2.3 million people aged over 50 in the country have still not had a single dose.

Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

Member comments

  1. We have a green pass that was issued this summer and are boosted. Is there any other requirements? we are US citizens.

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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