From August 16th, this age group will be given priority to get immunised “even without prior booking”, as stated in a letter from commissioner Francesco Figliuolo. to Italy’s regions, according to news reports.
The vaccination campaign “is developing as planned, which is seeing the gradual achievement of the objectives set for the immunisation of priority classes, the most vulnerable and fragile citizens,” wrote the commissioner.
He said the latest move was intended to give “impetus” to vaccinating youngsters ahead of the return to school in September by creating “fast lanes” for this band that is still largely unvaccinated.
Italy began offering vaccination appointments to over-12s from early June.
Some 23 percent of 12-19 year-olds have been fully vaccinated in Italy, making up 1.75 million people in this group, according to the latest government figures.
The decision to prioritise this age bracket is also aimed at making the new sports season safer.
“This provision will also have positive implications to encourage the safe resumption of both sports activities and those aimed at ensuring greater mental and physical well-being for young people,” reads the letter.
The goal is the “completion of the vaccination of technical staff working in sports facilities or sports associations aimed at well-being,” he added.
Italy is also looking at vaccines for children younger than 12 in the next phase of the vaccination campaign.
Massimo Galli, director of the infectious diseases clinic at Milan’s Sacco Hospital, said, “the vaccine for the under-12s is fundamental because, with the reopening of schools, the spread among children is unstoppable,” he told Sky TG24’s news show ‘Buongiorno‘.
“In other words, without having vaccinated the entire population, including children, the possibility of containing the phenomenon becomes complicated,” he added.
Franco Locatelli, coordinator of the Scientific Technical Committee (CTS) gave November as a possible date to start vaccinating children.
“Pfizer and Moderna are close to the authorisation for the youngest, the under 12s. I believe that it is necessary to vaccinate even the youngest,” he said in an interview with newspaper Il Messaggero.
“By vaccinating children we will avoid outbreaks in primary schools. We will limit the circulation of the virus and the possibility of parents and grandparents becoming infected,” he added.
Referring to the Delta variant, which is driving Italy’s fourth wave of coronavirus, Galli indicated the need for updated vaccines “in order to really fight the disease”.
He also referred to the problem of the over-50s still unvaccinated – more than a quarter (28 percent) of 50-59 year-olds are still not fully immunised.
“The 50-year-olds who haven’t yet been vaccinated need to be convinced by telling them that if they expect to get away with it thanks to others’ vaccines, with the Delta variant in circulation they can give up that hope,” he said.
“In fact, it is so widespread that it can even reach people who have many vaccinated people around them,” he warned.
The news comes after Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) released findings on the effectiveness of the vaccine, reporting that 99 percent of Covid deaths in Italy since February were among those not fully vaccinated.
In a bid to increase vaccinations, the Italian government has extended its ‘green pass‘ requirement to access many leisure and cultural sites across Italy – a move which has both sparked protests and increased vaccine bookings.
Some 65 percent of Italy’s population over 12 are now fully vaccinated, with 72.5 million doses administered in total.