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.
A medical worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine at a hub within Turin's Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: 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.

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Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

Italy's Covid-19 vaccination campaign prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country's death toll by almost half, the national health institute (ISS) said on Wednesday.

Covid vaccines halved Italy's death toll, study finds

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, the ISS said in a press release announcing the publication of its report.

The report covers the period between December 27th, 2020, when the vaccination campaign began, and January 31st of this year, using a methodology initially developed for flu vaccines.

It said 72 percent of deaths avoided from the disease were among over-80s, 19 percent in the 70-79 range, 7 percent in the 60-69 range and 3 percent under 60.

Italy has been one of the countries worst affected by the  pandemic, with more than 160,000 deaths reported since February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.

To date, almost 90 percent of the population over the age of 12 has been fully vaccinated, as well as just over 34 percent of children aged five to eleven.

Italy on Tuesday began offering a fourth dose of an anti-Covid 19 vaccine to those deemed at highest risk from the disease, including over-80s and care home residents.