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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REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

The northern cities of Milan and Turin were named Italy's 'smog capitals' in a new pollution report on Monday which urged the government to take action over poor air quality.

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to another report from Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente.

The Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2023, unveiled on Monday, was the latest to warn about the risks to health posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 25 of 95 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Turin was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 90 days, closely followed by Milan (84), Asti (79), Modena (75), and Padua and Venice at 70.

These were followed by Cremona, Treviso, Mantua and Rovigo, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

All of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with most within the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

Some southern cities featured nearer the bottom of the ranking, with Andria (Puglia) and Ragusa (Sicily) exceeding limits on several days, as well as Rome, which overshot the permitted level for one day.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The average annual rate of PM10 emissions nationwide dropped slightly, by two percent year-on-year, the report found.

“This, however, is not enough to guarantee the health of citizens,” said Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente.

He pointed out that the situation looked even worse if air quality in Italian cities were measured against tighter limits under the new European Directive on air quality, in force from 2030, which lowers the PM10 threshold from 35 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

“Only 23 out of 96 cities (24 percent) would be under these limits,” Ciafani said, while 84 percent would exceed the threshold for PM2.5 and 61 percent for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union over air quality, and has “persistently and systematically” breached EU recommended limits, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020.

The north of Italy has long been ranked among the worst areas in Europe for polluted air according to data from the European Environment Agency.

“Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also a health problem of great importance,” said Ciafani. “In Europe, it’s the main cause of premature death due to environmental factors.”

“Italy has more than 52,000 deaths per year caused by PM2.5 emissions, equal to a fifth of those recorded throughout the continent,” he said.

The main causes of air pollution in Italian cities are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys overall are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Legambiente said “drastic” measures were required to tackle the problem, including funds for more efficient heating systems in homes and public buildings and a major increase in public transport provision.

The group said Italy must “quadruple the availability of public transit, promoting integrated season tickets as done by Germany in 2022”, triple the number of electric buses, create zero-emission zones in town centres, and “create another 16,000 kilometres of cycle paths”.

It also praised local authorities choosing to bring in 30 km/h speed limits in city centres. Councils in Bologna, Turin, Milan and Cesena have all said they plan to implement these limits, following the lead of European cities including Paris and Madrid, despite fierce criticism from Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini.

Legambiente published a petition urging the government to make clean air and more livable cities a priority, saying Italy should follow Paris in attempting to create ’15-minute cities’, in which everyone lives within a quarter of an hour’s walk of vital amenities such as shops and schools and possibly also workplaces.