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.
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.
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.