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VACCINE

Which regions of Italy have opened vaccinations to all over-18s?

While most regions of Italy are still vaccinating older adults and others most at risk, some parts of the country have opened reservations to over-30s, high schoolers about to graduate, or even everyone over 18.

Which regions of Italy have opened vaccinations to all over-18s?
A vaccination hub in Turin's Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

The autonomous province of Bolzano (also known as Alto Adige or South Tyrol) on Thursday opened booking to every resident over the age of 18, putting it the furthest ahead so far. 

Earlier this week the Liguria region offered a limited number of appointments to over-18s who want the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, with all 22,000 doses snapped up in a single day. The region plans to repeat the scheme with another 20,000 doses on May 31st.

Sardinia‘s health authorities have indicated that they are thinking of organising a similar ‘open day’ for over-18s using AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile Abruzzo, Lazio and Sicily are among the regions offering appointments to students in the final year of high school.

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Lazio, which has already held special sessions the past two weekends to vaccinate over-40s and over-35s with AstraZeneca, is now planning an entire ‘open week’ offering anyone over 18 the Oxford vaccine from June 2nd to 6th. 

Several regions of Italy have found themselves with unused doses of AstraZeneca due to people refusing it, whether due to concerns over possible side effects or because other vaccines have a shorter wait between doses (or in Johnson & Johnson’s case, require only one). 

The Italian Health Ministry currently recommends “preferential use” of AstraZeneca on people over 60, though it remains approved for everyone over 18.

By now most regions have opened booking to people over 40, while as of this week Lombardy is offering appointments to people in their 30s too. Piedmont and Umbria will do the same from Friday, May 28th.

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The past month has seen Italy’s vaccination campaign pick up considerable speed, with more than 3 million doses injected in each of the past three weeks. Nearly 11 million people, around 18 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated so far, while around the same percentage again have had their first dose.

At the start of May most regions were still only offering appointments to over-60s. But several regions are now hopeful that they’ll be able to open reservations to everyone over 18 in June, with Lombardy planning on starting on June 2nd and Lazio aiming for the second half of the month.

OPINION: Bureaucratic barriers must not stop Italy vaccinating its foreign residents

While welcoming the acceleration, Italy’s Covid-19 emergency commissioner Francesco Figliuolo cautioned that regions should continue to focus on high-risk groups: “We mustn’t ease off vulnerable categories and the elderly, who we will finish [vaccinating] at the end of June,” he said.

“It is clear that we must go and intercept people in the highest-risk groups who are not yet vaccinated,” including by having regional health services call them to set up an appointment.

Member comments

  1. It still seems that for those of us who are resident with private health and not enrolled in the public health system that we are excluded from the vaccination program. I am in my 50’s and was not able to join the health service when I became resident and will only join next year. I have been unable to book an appointment in Lazio and have be given no info about when this might be possible.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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