For the most part, Italy’s residents have until recently been required to book their vaccination appointments up to several weeks in advance, with the exception of a few last-minute appointment opportunities at major vaccination hubs where doses were approaching their expiry dates.
That now appears to be changing, as the government and regional authorities are making a push to achieve a national vaccination rate of 80% for all residents over the age of 12 by the end of September.
Piedmont, Trentino, Tuscany and Lazio are some of the regions that have experimented with offering walk-in Covid vaccination services for all in recent days, reports the Italian newspaper Il Foglio.
The option was made available to residents of Lazio who were able to produce a national health card, or tessera sanitaria, from September 1st, and has been available to all Tuscan residents without restrictions since August 30th.
“All those who need to receive the first dose of vaccine, regardless of age, will be able to do so by presenting themselves at any vaccination centre without the obligation to book,” Tuscany’s regional president Eugenio Giani told news outlets.
Lazio’s regional health commissioner Alessio d’Amato announced towards the end of August that local authorities were hoping to fully vaccinate 85% of residents by the middle of September.
And in a press conference on Friday, Piedmont president Alberto Cirio told reporters that he aimed to vaccinate all of his region’s young people aged between 12 and 19 (who were willing) with at least one dose by mid-September, according to the Italian news daily La Stampa.
Cirio said his plan was to ensure that Piedmont remains in the least-restricted ‘white’ zone and schools can stay open ‘permanently’.
“We want to ensure in-person school attendance because there is nothing more painful for a president or a mayor than to sign a school closure order,” he added.
Italy’s health ministry first gave the go-ahead to vaccinate all residents aged 12 and up back in June.
However, the fact that local health authorities are responsible for managing the country’s vaccination rollout meant that many parts of the country weren’t ready to do so at the time, as some were still focused on vaccinating over-40s.
To encourage those who’ve been slow to present themselves for vaccination, some regional authorities have recently undertaken a range of initiatives including installing booths at cultural festivals and trade fairs.
One event held near the end of August publicised the second-dose vaccinations of eight of Venice football team’s players at the Marghera vaccination center, and invited fans to meet their idols and get vaccinated in the process.
In a press conference on Thursday, Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi said that he would consider the option of making vaccines mandatory if Italy does not reach its desired vaccination rates in the coming weeks.
Ministers said on Sunday that plans to make vaccines obligatory in Italy may be outlined in the coming weeks, but that this move would depend on the epidemiological situation and the vaccination rate during September.
Just over 71 percent of eligible people in Italy have had at least one dose as of Monday, while 63 percent are now fully vaccinated, official figures show.