What you need to know about getting a flu vaccination in Italy this year

Always an important part of the medical calendar, the seasonal flu vaccine campaign has taken on a new importance this year. Here's what you need to know about getting a flu jab in Italy.

What you need to know about getting a flu vaccination in Italy this year
Photo: AFP
Italy has begun its flu vaccination campaign early this year, as part of efforts to lower the strain on health services during the cornavirus emergency.
Every year, flu outbreaks affect between four and 15 percent of the population in Italy, placing a heavy burden on the healthcare system.
Health authorities are advising people to get vaccinated early this year before the flu begins to circulate.
As getting a vaccine is more important than ever in 2020, here's what you need to know.
Who needs to have a flu shot?
According to the Italian Ministry of Health, the at-risk categories eligible for a free flu shot are:
  • Over 65s (some regions extend the recommendation to over 60s)
  • Pregnant women (or those who are postpartum at the start of the epidemic season.)
  • People with long-term health conditions including asthma, diabetes, 
  • Anyone aged between 6 months to 65 years of age suffering from chronic diseases affecting the respiratory, cardio-circulatory, intestinal or neuromuscular systems, diabetes and severe obesity, chronic renal or adrenal insufficiency, hematopoietic organ diseases, tumors, immunosuppression drug induced or diseases such as HIV, hepatitis.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Relatives and contacts (adults and children) of those at high risk of complications (regardless of whether the person at risk has been vaccinated or not).
  • Doctors and health personnel.
  • Police and firefighers
  • Veterinarians
  • Blood donors

Anyone who does not fall into the above categories can buy a vaccine at a pharmacy, costing about €25, and have it inoculated by their doctor.

According to the Ministry of Health, “the flu vaccine is advised for all those who wish to avoid the flu and who do not have specific contraindications, after consulting their doctor.”

What about children?

While free vaccines are available for children in the US, UK, Canada, and several European countries, this is not the case nationwide in Italy.

At the moment, only a few regions in Italy offer free vaccination to children and adolescents who do not have long-term health conditions. Check with your doctor or local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or local health office) on the rules where you are.

Where and when can I get a vaccine?
This depends on which Italian region you live in, as procedures, availability and timing varies by local health authority.
If you are registered with your local ASL (health authority), contact their Prevention Department or your GP or pediatrician for more information.
Many foreign nationals living in Italy are not eligible for Italian state healthcare for a variety of reasons and need private cover.
If this is your situation, speak to a private doctor, who may be able to give you a prescription. Alternatively you may buy the vaccine at a pharmacy, depending on availability.

The flu vaccine campaign begins on different dates in different regions. In many areas it has already started. This is the date on which the region will release all available doses of the vaccine to healthcare providers, with a certain percentage reserved for sale at pharmacies.
Here's when the campaign starts in each region:
Abruzzo – 1 October
Basilicata – October 15th
Calabria – October 1st
Campania – October 1st
Emilia-Romagna – 12 October
Friuli Venezia Giulia -1 October
Lazio – 1 October
Liguria – 5 October
Lombardy – 19 October
Marche – October 15
Molise – October 15th
Piedmont – October 26th
Puglia – 1 October for those at risk, 1 November for the rest of the population
Sardinia – October 1st
Sicily – 5 October
Tuscany – 5 October
Trentino Alto Adige – 12 October
Umbria – 1st October
Valle D'Aosta – 12 October
Veneto – 12 October
Some regions are organising vaccination days at schools, while others including Lazio are allowing more pharmacies to give the vaccines.

However, in many areas the vaccine may not be available to some patients until several weeks after the start date, as many local health authorities say they are prioritising vaccines for at-risk patients during the first two to four weeks of the campaign.
In some areas, this is simply due to supply problems. As one pharmacist in Rome told the Repubblica newspeper: “Even if you want to buy the vaccine at the pharmacy, you will not find it. All the supply has been used for the at risk categories”.
Health authorities have urged people not to rush to get vaccinated, stressing that the vaccine will also be availble later in the year, with campaigns in most regions running until the end of January 2021.
Flu season in Italy is currently expected to peak in December.

For more information, see the Ministry of Health's flu information website or contact your local ASL.

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Covid-19: Average life expectancy in Italy dropped by 1.2 years in 2020

Coronavirus cut average life expectancy in Italy by 1.2 years in 2020, and by more than four years in parts of the country hit hardest by the pandemic, official statistics showed on Monday.

Covid-19: Average life expectancy in Italy dropped by 1.2 years in 2020
A cemetery in Bergamo, one of the parts of Italy which has suffered the highest death toll during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Life expectancy at birth last year stood at 82 years, compared to 83.2 years in 2019, the Istat national statistics office said in a new release.

“In 2020, the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting sharp increase in mortality abruptly interrupted the growth in life expectancy at birth that had characterised the trend until 2019,” it said in a statement.

For many years Italy has boasted one of the longest life expectancies in Europe. But with the spread of the coronavirus, its ageing population was especially vulnerable to falling sick.

Italy has recorded close to 130,000 deaths from Covid-19 in total, which have mainly been among the elderly.


The drop in life expectancy was even steeper in some regions such as the northern provinces of Bergamo and Cremona, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020.

Men lost on average 4.3 and 4.5 years while women lost 3.2 years and 2.9 years in these areas.

More than 129,500 people with coronavirus have died in Italy, the majority in the northern regions where 36 percent of the population lives.

According to Istat, the pandemic has wiped out many of the gains made year-on-year since 2010, when Italy’s average life expectancy was 81.7.

Italy was the first European country to face a major outbreak of Covid-19 and for a time the region of Lombardy, the nation’s economic heart, became the epicentre of the global pandemic.

Quality of life has also been impacted in Italy, particulary due to the economic repercussions of the crisis.

The government has since rolled out a vaccination programme that, as of Monday evening, had almost 72 percent of the population over 12 fully immunised.

Italy has set a target of vaccinating at least 80 percent of the population by the end of September.