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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Semen ‘a vehicle’ for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

Researchers in Italy who were first to identify the presence of monkeypox in semen are broadening their testing, saying early results suggest sperm can transmit infection.

Semen 'a vehicle' for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

A team at Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital, which specialises in infectious diseases, revealed in a study published on June 2nd that the virus DNA was detected in semen of three out of four men diagnosed with monkeypox.

They have since expanded their work, according to director Francesco Vaia, who said researchers have found the presence of monkeypox in the sperm of 14 infected men out of 16 studied.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How is Italy dealing with rising monkeypox cases?

“This finding tells us that the presence of the virus in sperm is not a rare or random occurrence,” Vaia told AFP in an interview.

He added: “The infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse by direct contact with skin lesions, but our study shows that semen can also be a vehicle for infection.”

Researchers at Spallanzani identified Italy’s first cases of monkeypox, found in two men who had recently returned from the Canary Islands.

The latest results reported by Vaia have not yet been published or subject to peer review.

Since early May, a surge of monkeypox cases has been detected outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic. Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,400 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the World Health Organisation from more than 50 countries this year.

The vast majority of cases so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, in “clustered social and sexual networks”, according to the WHO.

It is investigating cases of semen testing positive for monkeypox, but has maintained the virus is primarily spread through close contact.

Meg Doherty, director of the WHO’s global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes, said last week: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.”

Could antivirals curb the spread of monkeypox?

Spallanzani researchers are now trying to ascertain how long the virus is present in sperm after the onset of symptoms.

In one patient, virus DNA was detected three weeks after symptoms first appeared, even after lesions had disappeared – a phenomenon Vaia said had been seen in the past in viral infections such as Zika.

That could indicate that the risk of transmission of monkeypox could be lowered by the use of condoms in the weeks after recovery, he said.

The Spallanzani team is also looking at vaginal secretions to study the presence of the virus.

A significant finding from the first study was that when the virus was cultured in the lab, it was “present in semen as a live, infectious virus efficient in reproducing itself”, Vaia told AFP.

Vaia cautioned that there remained many unanswered questions on monkeypox, including whether antiviral therapies could shorten the time in which people with the virus could infect others.

Another is whether the smallpox vaccine could protect people from the monkeypox virus.

“To study this we will analyse people who were vaccinated 40 years ago before human smallpox was declared to have disappeared,” Vaia said.