The first batch of 249,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are due to arrive in Italy on Saturday, February 6th. and will be offered to essential workers outside the health sector, the Italian government has confirmed.
Under a revised vaccination schedule, the first AstraZeneca doses will be offered to teachers, lecturers and other staff in schools and universities, as well as members of the armed forces, police, firefighters, prison staff and prisoners, other key workers and people living in religious or other shared communities who are under 55.
Meanwhile new doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which have been administered to some 2 million people in Italy to date, will be allocated to over-55s and people with pre-existing health problems.
The first phase of the campaign has concentrated primarily on healthcare professionals.
Under the new plan, Italy will start vaccinating over-80s, over-55s and key workers all at the same time, meaning that some 24 million people in Italy will become eligible to join the queue for a jab – though when they actually get one will depend on supplies.
While the vaccine has been approved by EU and Italian regulators for use on all adults, clinical trials to date have mainly involved participants under 55, leading Italian medicines agency AIFA to recommend that it be reserved for 18 to 55-year-olds pending further studies.
Previously, no one under 80 was supposed to get the shot until all over-80s – some 4.4 million people – had been vaccinated, along with the roughly 2 million health workers and nursing home staff and residents who were first in line.
Under the revised vaccination plan, Italy's new targets are to administer some 2 million doses in February – the same number delivered in the first five weeks of the programme so far – rising to 4 million in March and 8 million in April.