Covid-19: The essential Italian you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

By now it's likely you've learned some vocab related to Covid, viruses and vaccinations. But what if you start experiencing symptoms or are called up for your jab? Here are the phrases to help you navigate your medical care in Italian.

Covid-19: The essential Italian you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated
Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP

Being in hospital for any reason is a stressful situation and even more so if you’re not totally sure what your doctor or nurse is saying to you.

It can be difficult to find English-speaking doctors in Italy, even in the bigger cities, so it’s good to be prepared and brush up on your language skills to make the whole experience a little smoother.

Covid-19 vaccination phrases:

When it’s your turn to get your vaccination, here’s the language you may need to use:

Il vaccino – the vaccine

Quale vaccino mi farete?/Quale vaccino avró? – Which vaccine will I get?

Potrei avere una reazione allergica? – Could I have an allergic reaction?

Quali sono gli effeti collaterali? – What are the side effects?

Quando avró la seconda dose? – When will I have my second dose?

Come mi contatterete? – How are you going to get in touch with me?

Posso scegliere su quale braccio fare il vaccino? – Can I choose which arm to get the vaccine on?

Essential vocabulary for symptoms:

If you think you may have caught Covid, here are some phrases that will allow you to express your symptoms and get checked out.

Sospetto/penso di avere il Covid – I suspect I have Covid

Devo andare in ospedale? – Do I have to go the hospital?

Devo andare/stare in isolamento mentre aspetto i risultati? – Do I have to self-isolate while I wait for the results?

Vorrei prendere un appuntamento – I would like to make an appointment

Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Mi fa male qui – It hurts here

Ho la febbre – I have a fever

Mi gira la testa – I feel dizzy

Ho la tosse secca – I have a dry cough

Ho perso il gusto/l’olfatto – I’ve lost my sense of taste/smell

Ho difficoltà a respirare/Faccio fatica a respirare – I’m having difficulty breathing

Ho la nausea e ho vomitato – I am feeling nauseated and have vomited

Ho male allo stomaco/Ho male alla pancia – I’ve got stomach ache/I’ve got tummy ache (belly area)

Ho la diarrea – I’ve got diarrhoea 

Medical tests:

You may need to undergo some tests to check if you’re positive or negative for Covid. The following shows the vocabulary you’ll need to understand the various tests your doctor may mention.

La PCR – PCR test

Il test antigenico – antigen test

Analisi del sangue – Blood test

Analisi delle urine – Urine test

Raggi-X/Radiografia – X-ray

Quando arrivano i risultati? – When will the results come back?

Photo by Fred SCHEIBER / AFP

What the doctor might ask or tell you:

Sei venuto a contatto con persone positive al Covid? –  Have you come into contact with a person who’s tested positive for Covid?

Sei venuto a contatto con altre persone?  – Have you come into contact with other people?

Dove fa male? – Where does it hurt?

Da quando hai questi sintomi? – Since when have you had these symptoms?

È la prima volte che ti succede? – Is this the first time it’s happened?

Devi venire a stomaco vuoto/a digiuno – You need to come with an empty stomach/without eating

There are certain tests, particularly blood tests, for which you need to skip your meals that day. Your doctor may ask you to come digiuno, or ‘on an empty stomach’.

Hai allergie? – Do you have allergies?

Dobbiamo fare qualche test – We have to run some tests

Sei risultato positivo/negativo al Covid – You have tested positive/negative for Covid

Devi stare a casa per 14 giorni e non puoi entrare a contatto con le persone con cui vivi – You have to stay at home for 14 days and you can’t come into contact with the people you live with

Dobbiamo portarti in ospedale/Terapia Intensiva – We have to admit you to hospital/the ICU

Hopefully you won’t need some of these phrases, but knowing the language you may need is half the fight to keeping calm through these processes.

Member comments

  1. Could you provide more information on how someone who does not participate in ASL can get vaccinated? The conventional procedure — making the reservation — involves one’s tessera sanitaria, and one cannot finalize the online application without this information. Thank you.

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Italy’s deputy health minister under fire after casting doubt on Covid vaccines

Opposition leaders called for health undersecretary Marcello Gemmato to resign on Tuesday after the official said he was not "for or against" vaccines.

Italy's deputy health minister under fire after casting doubt on Covid vaccines

Gemmato, a pharmacist and member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, made the remark during an appearance on the political talkshow ReStart on Rai 2 on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

In a widely-shared clip, the official criticises the previous government’s approach to the Covid pandemic, claiming that for a large part of the crisis Italy had the highest death rate and third highest ‘lethality’ rate (the proportion of Covid patients who died of the disease).

When journalist Aldo Cazzullo interjects to ask whether the toll would have been higher without vaccines, Gemmato responds: “that’s what you say,” and claimed: “We do not have the reverse burden of proof.”

The undersecretary goes on to say that he won’t “fall into the trap of taking a side for or against vaccines”.

After Gemmato’s comments, the president of Italy’s National Federation of Medical Guilds, Filippo Anelli, stressed that official figures showed the Italian vaccination campaign had already prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country’s potential death toll by almost half.

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, according to a report from Italy’s national health institute (ISS) in April 2021.

Gemmato’s comments provoked calls for him to step down, including from the head of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.

“A health undersecretary who doesn’t take his distance from no-vaxxers is certainly in the wrong job” wrote the leader of the centrist party Action, Carlo Calenda, on Twitter.

Infectious disease expert Matteo Bassetti of Genoa’s San Martino clinic also expressed shock.

“How is it possible to say that there is no scientific proof that vaccines have helped save the lives of millions of people? You just have to read the scientific literature,” Bassetti tweeted. 

In response to the backlash, Gemmato on Tuesday put out a statement saying he believes “vaccines are precious weapons against Covid” and claiming that his words were taken out of context and misused against him.

The Brothers of Italy party was harshly critical of the previous government’s approach to handling the Covid crisis, accusing the former government of using the pandemic as an excuse to “limit freedom” through its use of the ‘green pass’, a proof of vaccination required to access public spaces. 

But since coming into power, Meloni appears to have significantly softened her stance.

Her appointee for health minister, Orazio Schillaci, is a medical doctor who formed part of the team advising the Draghi administration on its handling of the pandemic.

Schillaci, a former dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Rome’s Tor Vergata University, has described the former government’s green pass scheme as an “indispensable tool for guaranteeing safety in university classrooms”.

Speaking at a session of the G20 on Tuesday, Meloni referenced the role of vaccines in bringing an end to the Covid pandemic.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of health personnel, vaccines, prevention, and the accountability of citizens, life has gradually returned to normal,’ the prime minister said in a speech.