Who is in Italy’s Covid-19 vaccine priority groups?

The elderly, people with certain health problems and key workers are among those next in line for a Covid-19 vaccination in Italy. Here are the details.

Who is in Italy's Covid-19 vaccine priority groups?
The elderly, people with certain health problems, and key workers are among Italy's vaccine priority groups. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The Italian Health Ministry overhauled its vaccination plan last week after regulators advised that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which began arriving in Italy a few days ago, should preferably be used on adults under 55.

As a result, health services will use the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on the elderly and people with health problems, while offering shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to younger, healthier key workers outside healthcare weeks earlier than planned. Most health workers, as well as nursing home staff and residents, already got their jabs in the first five weeks of Italy's vaccination campaign.

READ ALSO: Italy to start vaccinating over-55s and key workers this month under updated plan

While that means as many as 24 million people in Italy could potentially join the queue for a jab, the order they'll get one in depends on how vulnerable they are to serious illness, and how high the risk they'll be exposed. 

Now the Health Ministry has released an updated version of its list of priority groups. They are as follows:

  • People aged 80+

The top priority remains people over 80, who in some regions of Italy began getting their shots this week.

Estimated total: around 4.4 million people.

  • Category 1: people at very high risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19, aged 16 up

This category includes people with any of the following conditions: respiratory illness such as pulmonary fibrosis; severe cardiovascular disease; neurological disabilities or diseases such as multiple sclerosis; diabetes; cystic fibrosis; kidney failure; autoimmune diseases; liver disease; strokes and cerebrovascular disease; cancer (including patients who finished treatment less than six months ago); Down's syndrome; organ or bone marrow transplants (including patients on the wait list); severe obesity. 

In some cases, carers are also eligible for vaccination.

Estimated total: around 2.1 million people.

  • Category 2: people aged 75 to 79

This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 2.6 million people.

  • Category 3: people aged 70 to 74

This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 3.3 million people.

  • Category 4: people aged 16 to 69 at a higher risk of illness from Covid-19

This category includes people with less severe forms of certain conditions in Category 1, as well as some others: respiratory illness; cardiovascular disease; neurological diseases or disabilities; diabetes; HIV; kidney disease; arterial hypertension; autoimmune diseases; liver disease; cerebrovascular disease; organ or bone marrow transplants.

Estimated total: around 5.8 million people.

  • Category 5: people aged 55 to 69

This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 11.9 million people.

  • Category 6: people aged 16 to 54

This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

But within Category 6, the following groups will be given priority: teachers, lecturers and other staff at schools and universities; members of the armed forces, police and fire fighters; prisoners, wardens and other prison staff; people living in religious or other shared communities; other unspecified “key services”.

Heathy adults who aren't in any of those groups will be at the very back of the line for vaccination.

Estimated total: around 29 million people.

CHARTS: How many people has Italy vaccinated so far?

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Because over-80s and Categories 1-5 will receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and Category 6 will get the AstraZeneca version, young, healthy adults who work in a key sector could find themselves bumped towards the front of the queue.

More than 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are due to arrive in Italy in the first three months of 2021 and are currently earmarked for young and healthy essential workers.

Under the revised plan, Italy's new targets are to administer some 2 million doses in total in February – the same number delivered in the first five weeks of the programme so far – climbing to 4 million in March and 8 million in April.

Its latest delivery estimates count on receiving 14.5 million doses of all vaccines together in quarter one, rising to 64.5 million in quarter two, and 68 million in quarter three.

Member comments

  1. The article addresses 75-79 year olds but no one older…and my friends are in their 80s. Can you please explain.
    Thank you

  2. Over 80s remain the top priority group in Italy, ahead of the other categories. We’ve updated the article to clarify.

  3. Janet at The Local – 16 Feb 2021
    I am in the 75 to 79 group. I am an expat living in Florence. Where do I go to get the Covid-19 vaccination jab in Florence?

  4. My husband and I moved to Italy just as the lockdown came in to place. We took up accommodation and residency in December 2020. We are not yet registered with a local doctor. I am classed as medically vulnerable in the UK and had I been in the UK would have received vaccination 2 weeks ago. Where do I stand in Italy ? How can I access my the vaccine ?

  5. I am 61yo, Resident, and in category one. Do I wait for my GP to notify me where and when? Do I register somewhere? Thanks for the helpful articles! Keep them coming!

  6. Hi Jessica, thank you so much for this great information! AT the very end, where it speaks of “doses” (eg 2 million already, 2 more in Feb, 4 in Mar, 8 in Apr), does this literally mean “doses” or does it imply 2 million people treated, at 2 doses per person? If I add up the Jan-Apr totals I’m wondering whether the total of 16 million doses is 16 million people served or only 8 million?

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Monkeypox case in Tuscany brings Italian total to four

The number of recorded monkeypox cases in Italy has now risen to four after health authorities on Tuesday confirmed an infection in eastern Tuscany.

Monkeypox case in Tuscany brings Italian total to four

The 32-year-old patient, currently being treated in hospital in the town of Arezzo, had reportedly returned to the area on May 15th following a holiday in the Canary Islands.

Three other confirmed cases are being treated at the Spallanzani infectious diseases hospital in Rome.

The first Italian case of monkey smallpox, or monkeypox, was also in a man who had recently returned from the Canary Islands, doctors at Spallanzani said last Thursday.

At least 160 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in May 2022 in non-African countries where the virus isn’t endemic, almost all in Europe: mostly Spain, the UK and Portugal and with single-digit cases in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as Italy.

Spain is now the non-endemic country with the highest number of monkeypox infections in the world – 36 – with 22 more suspected.

READ ALSO: What is Spain doing to deal with rising monkeypox cases?

The illness has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years, but is rare in Europe and North Africa.

Monkeypox is known to spread via close contact with an animal or human with the virus. It can be transmitted via bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets or through contaminated materials, such as bedding.

Its symptoms are similar but somewhat milder than those of smallpox: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, although it also causes the lymph nodes to swell up.

Within one to three days, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. 

Although most monkeypox cases aren’t serious, studies have shown that one in ten people who contract the disease in Africa die from it.

The unprecedented outbreak of the monkeypox virus has put the international community on alert.

On Monday, the European Union urged member states to take steps to ensure positive cases, close contacts, and even pets be quarantined as this is a zoonotic virus (a virus that spreads from animals to humans).