“We still have a way to go, but we’re into the final mile,” said Francesco Figlioulo on Sunday.
Italy had fully vaccinated 55.77 percent of its population aged 12 up by Monday morning, according to the latest official figures, representing 30.1 million people.
According to the government’s most recent weekly report, 7 percent of over-80s are still yet to receive their first dose, followed by almost 12 percent of 70-79-year-olds and some 17.5 percent of 60-69-year-olds.
Over a quarter of 50-59-year-olds – 25.6 percent – still haven’t received either dose.
Around 2 percent of those working in the healthcare industry are unvaccinated and among people working in schools, one in six – just over 15 percent – are yet to get their first jab.
In nine of Italy’s 20 regions, the percentage of unvaccinated school staff is as high as 50 to 77 percent, according to Figliuolo. The government is considering making vaccinations mandatory for teachers ahead of the coming new school year.
With Italy entering a fourth wave of Covid-19 driven by the rising Delta variant, the government continues to urge everyone eligible to get their shots.
“We must insist. I believe that Italians are very clear that the vaccine is the essential weapon to put these difficult months behind us,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Sunday.
He and Prime Minister Mario Draghi last week announced a major expansion of the country’s health passport scheme as part of a strategy to avoid a new lockdown and boost vaccination rates.
“The green pass and vaccines are two essential tools to close this very difficult season and try to open another one – and we are freer if we are vaccinated. My appeal to all Italians is to continue to vaccinate,” Speranza added.
From August 6th, people in Italy will need the pass to enter gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and other public venues, including indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants.
It will serve as proof of being vaccinated, having undergone a recent negative coronavirus test, or having recovered from Covid-19.
Protests against the scheme took place in several Italian cities over the weekend, though multiple regions also reported a sharp uptick in vaccination bookings.
More than 33 million copies of Italy’s so-called green pass have already been downloaded, emergency commissioner Figliuolo told reporters on Monday.
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“Most of the cases reported in Italy have been identified in the last 14 days in unvaccinated individuals,” said Figliuolo.
Moreover, “a strong risk-reducing effect of Sars-CoV-2 infection is estimated in those fully vaccinated compared to unvaccinated people”, he said.
Over the last 30 days, 33 percent of diagnoses of Covid-19, 46 percent of hospitalisations, 71 percent of admissions to intensive care and 69 percent of deaths have occurred among those who have not received a vaccine dose, according to Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).
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The ISS data indicates that the vaccine is over 70 percent effective in preventing infection in those who have had only one of two doses and above 88 percent for those who are fully vaccinated.
Preventing hospitalisation rises to 81 percent with the first dose and 95 percent with a complete cycle. The figures reach 89 percent and 97 percent for entry into intensive care.
In preventing death, an incomplete cycle is 80 percent effective and full vaccination is 96 percent effective.