Italy reaches target of fully vaccinating 80 percent of all over-12s

Italy has reached its goal of fully vaccinating 80 percent of the eligible population against Covid-19, government data shows, amid a slump in bookings for first jabs.

A medical worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine at a hub within Turin's Museum of Contemporary Art.
Italy is now urging more people to get a second Covid booster shot as the infection rate rises. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

The target, set for September 30th, was reached on October 9th as the country’s vaccination campaign has slowed significantly in recent weeks.

Some 43.2 million people out of a total population of around 60 million had completed their vaccination cycle as of October 10th, the government’s vaccination figures show.

Italy’s special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, set the 80 percent target back in March and it was hoped Italy would hit the mark by the end of September.

That target was missed after the number of first doses booked dropped off sharply during summer and failed to rise again in September.

READ ALSO: Italy’s vaccination campaign slows as ‘green pass effect’ fails to materialise

The number of vaccines administered in Italy continues to drop, official data shows, despite the government attempting to boost the final stages of the campaign by extending its health certificate or ‘green pass’ requirement to all workplaces.

In a push to make it over the finish line in September, the government passed a decree making it obligatory for all employees to produce a health certificate or ‘green pass’ to enter the workplace from October 15th.

“Today we have reached an important percentage of vaccinated people, perhaps even unimaginable until a few months ago. However, we must also take into account that today 8.4 million Italians over 12 have not even had one dose, among them are 4-5 million people of working age,” Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe foundation for edvidence-based medicine, told Radio Cusano Campus on Monday morning.

Authorities hoped that the requirement to show a green pass – which proves that the holder has received at least one dose of the vaccine, has recovered from Covid in the past six months, or has recently tested negative for the virus – would encourage more people to get the vaccine.

But the hoped-for ‘green pass effect’ failed to materialise, as data showed last week that the rate of new vaccines administered declined by 22.2 percent in the week between September 27th and October 3rd.

EXPLAINED: How Italy will enforce the new ‘green pass’ rules in all workplaces

Thousands of people gather in the Piazza Del Popolo to protest an expansion of Italy's 'green pass' system.

Thousands of people protested against vaccines and Italy’s green pass extension in central Rome on Saturday. Photo: Tiziana FABI/AFP

The current sluggish vaccine uptake rate stands in stark contrast to the rush seen in late July, when prime minister Mario Draghi first announced the introduction of the green pass as a requirement for entering many leisure facilities.

With the majority of the population now inoculated against the virus, those who remain unvaccinated are likely to be the most staunch holdouts, with the greatest level of resistance to the government’s efforts.

An estimated ten thousand people demonstrated in Rome on Saturday against vaccines and the green pass requirement, with some protesters later clashing with police.

It’s not known if the government will now raise the vaccination target, with advisors to the Italian authorities saying the 80% threshold is insufficient, Reuters reports.

The figure is “not just a symbolic threshold”, Guido Rasi, an advisor to Figliuolo and former director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), told Reuters.

“It’s a level that, calculations show, correlates with a significant reduction in the circulation of the virus and a drastic cut in hospital admissions.”

The Italian government has not ruled out the possibility of introducing a vaccination mandate if coverage is deemed insufficient.

In September, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government was considering plans to introduce a mandate and would proceed “without fear” if necessary “in the defence of the right to health and the need to avoid new deprivations of freedom”.

The government has said vaccines and the green pass system are the only alternative to reinstating restrictions should infection rates rise again.

Italy’s coronavirus infection rate currently remains relatively low and stable, with 2.278 cases and 27 deaths reported on Sunday, October 10th.

The number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 in Italy has been falling steadily since early summer.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italy opens Covid booster jab bookings from Monday

Regional health services in Italy will open bookings for Covid-19 booster shots to priority groups from Monday as the first deliveries of updated vaccines arrived in the country.

Italy opens Covid booster jab bookings from Monday

“From Monday, September 12th, bookings for the new dual-strain vaccines can begin at the regional level,” said director general of the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), Nicola Magrini, at a health ministry press conference on Friday.

Booster shots will not be mandatory and will be offered to priority groups first, health authorities confirmed.

READ ALSO: Italy gives green light to new dual-strain Covid vaccines

“The arrival of the new vaccines should strengthen the conviction of those who have to take the fourth dose because of their age or because they have other conditions,” Magrini said. 

Aifa on Monday approved the Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) dual-strain vaccines, which are effective against both the original strain and the more recent Omicron variants.

Italy will receive 19 million doses of the new vaccines in September, said Franco Locatelli, president of Italy’s Higher Health Council (ISS), at the press conference. 

The updated vaccines have been shown to “generate an antibody response against the Omicron Ba4 and 5 variants, which are the prevalent ones,” he said.

They represent “96 percent of all strains isolated in Italy so far”, he said.

Italian healthcare workers preparing doses of Covid vaccine.

The new dual-strain vaccines will be offered first to at-risk patients, including people aged over 60 and care home residents. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Covid vaccines “have been a triumph of science and medicine” and “have saved millions of lives”, Locatelli added.

Booster jabs are currently recommended for those in higher-risk categories as Italy begins its autumn vaccination campaign.

Priority will be given to those who are still waiting to receive a second booster dose (the so-called fourth dose); therefore over-60s and people with health conditions that make them more susceptible to developing more severe forms of the Covid-19 disease, according to the latest memo from the health ministry.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

Magrini said the priority list also includes “health workers, pregnant women, and residents of facilities for the elderly”.

But “it can also be administered to those under 60 who ask for it,” he added.

Booster shots can only be administered to those who received their last dose at least 120 days (about four months) earlier.

The vaccination campaign is expected to be expanded to all over-12s who have only completed the initial vaccination cycle. For this category, the new booster shot would be their third dose.

How do you book a booster shot?

As in previous vaccination campaigns, each regional health authority will manage their own local vaccination programmes, including their timing.

Bookings should work in much the same way as before, with patients being able to book their appointments through GPs, pharmacies or their ASL’s website where available.

Shots can be administered by family doctors as well as at designated vaccination hubs in more densely populated areas.

The autonomous province of Trentino said it will begin administering jabs immediately from Monday and will allow residents to begin booking jabs from Saturday, September 10th.

Other regions and autonomous provinces are expected to announce their plans in the coming days.

For further information on availability and reservation in your region, see the official vaccination booking website.