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HEALTH

Italy’s hospitalised vaccine sceptics urge others to get jabbed

In one Rome hospital, the vast majority of Covid-19 patients in intensive care are unvaccinated – and many are urging Italian anti-vaxxers to get the shot.

Covid patient Salvatore breathes oxygen through a mask at the sub-intensive care unit of the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome, on October 13, 2021.
Covid patient Salvatore breathes oxygen through a mask at the sub-intensive care unit of the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome, on October 13, 2021. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

A 41-year-old patient at the ICC Casalpalocco Covid hospital, who gave his name as Francesco, said he was opposed to the vaccine but that if he could go back, he would get jabbed.

“The vaccine doesn’t inspire confidence but unfortunately we’ve got to do it, because in any case it’s the only thing that can help at this precise stage of the pandemic,” he told AFP.

At the hospital, there are currently 19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) for coronavirus, of whom 17 are unvaccinated, according to medical director Roberto Mezzanotte.

“Almost 90 to 95 percent in our ICU are non-vaccinated,” he told AFP.

A nurse views an X-ray of the lungs of a Covid patient on October 13, 2021 at the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome.

A nurse views an X-ray of the lungs of a Covid patient on October 13, 2021 at the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

In September, an analysis by the hospital found that 69 percent of its coronavirus patients were not vaccinated.

“Patients in the ICU for the most part are not vaccinated. And these are the most at risk, those whose condition worsens more readily and need intubation and assisted breathing,” Mezzanotte said.

Scared of Covid

Breathing oxygen through a mask, another patient, Salvatore, said he was a big supporter of vaccines but had not yet had his coronavirus jab before he felt gravely ill.

“In the space of a few hours, I went from being a person full of vitality to an empty sack, deprived of force,” the 55-year-old said.

READ ALSO: Almost all hospitalised Covid-19 patients in Italy are unvaccinated, says health watchdog

He said he had little patience for violent protesters who took to the streets of Rome last weekend against Italy’s coronavirus health pass.

“When I see these demonstrations against the Green Pass, they don’t understand, they don’t realise,” said Salvatore.

A Covid patient breathes oxygen through a mask at the sub-intensive care unit of the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome, on October 13, 2021.

A Covid patient breathes oxygen through a mask at the sub-intensive care unit of the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome, on October 13, 2021. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

From this Friday, the pass – showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from Covid-19 – will be required for all employees, in public and private workplaces.

The announcement of the measure helped push up vaccination rates in Italy, one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic, but provoked anger.

More than 85 percent of over 12s have now received at least one shot.

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

Mezzanotte said the reasons vary for why the patients chose not to be vaccinated, but primary among them is “fear that the vaccine is harmful”.

“It’s strange… they’re not scared of Covid but they’re scared of the vaccine,” he said.

Other Italian hospitals are seeing the same high percentages of non-vaccinated Covid patients, he said.

“Currently we have only one instrument to prohibit the pandemic from continuing and it’s vaccination.”

By Sonia Logre with Alexandria Sage

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COVID-19 VACCINES

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.

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