A proposal from Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri's to start a programme of mass vaccinations in early January was approved on Wednesday at a meeting between the central government and Italy's regional heads.
“We still need to be careful and cautious in the coming months until we have achieved sufficient vaccination coverage, but we're on the right path and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Who will be first to get the vaccine?
Once approval comes, doctors and health care workers will get the first doses – some 1.4 million people – the health ministry has said.
They will be followed by residents in care homes – just over 570,000 people.
Those aged over 80 will be next in line, followed by those aged 60-79, and those suffering from at least one chronic disease.
Vaccines will then be distributed to key workers – teachers, police, prison wardens
After that, it will be offered to the general population at walk-in centres and specially-designed kiosks.
The vaccine will be free, and will not be obligatory.
While the government has not given official confirmation, it is unlikely that the vaccinations will be limited to Italian citizens.
All current mandatory or recommended vaccines are available to everyone living in the country – including those not registered with the SSN (National Health Service).
Pop-up vaccine kiosks
The Italian government this week announced that it will begin constructing pop-up vaccine kiosks in towns and cities throughout the country, starting in January.
The distinctive white structures, designed by architect Stefano Boeri, will each be adorned with a flower graphic intended to symbolise “serenity and regeneration.”
Scientists estimate that 60-90 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated – possibly every year – to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus and stop future outbreaks.