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COVID-19 STATS

Which Italian regions have the highest Covid vaccination rates?

With almost 81% of its eligible population now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Italy's immunisation campaign is proceeding at a slow but steady pace. But how do different regions vary in their vaccine coverage? We take a look at the data.

Residents wait to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 on the island of Vulcano in Sicily, on May 13, 2021.
Residents wait to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 on the island of Vulcano in Sicily, on May 13, 2021. Gianluca CHININEA / AFP

Italy finally reached its goal of fully vaccinating 80% of its population on October 9th – nine days after its initial target of the end of September.

85% of the population has now been inoculated with at least one dose, and prime minister Mario Draghi has announced a new target of 90% coverage by the end of October.

READ ALSO: Italy reports rise in Covid vaccine uptake ahead of green pass expansion

But what variations exist between regions?

There are some slight differences to be aware of in how different sets of statistics calculate the population sample.

The European Medicines Agency has yet to approve any Covid-19 vaccine for under-12s, excluding that demographic from eligibility for the time being.

The Italian government also only takes into consideration the eligible population of over-12s when updating its Covid vaccination counter (at 80.8% as of Friday afternoon).

For this reason the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore’s Lab24 site, which provides Covid updates using data from Italy’s Covid-19 emergency commissioner’s office, takes into account only a given region’s population over the age of 12 when publishing vaccine statistics.

By contrast, the Gimbe Foundation, an independent evidence-based research institute that also takes its Covid data from Italy’s special emergency commissioner, calculates the percentage of a given region’s total population including all those aged 12 and under who are fully vaccinated, giving slightly lower percentages.

Which parts of Italy have the lowest vaccination rates?

Regardless of these differences, both Lab24’s latest statistics and the most recent Gimbe Foundation report of October 14th show that Sicily and Calabria in the south and Valle d’Aosta and the autonomous province of Bolzano in the north rank in Italy’s bottom four regions for vaccine uptake.

Some 68.7% of the total population of Valle d’Aosta is fully vaccinated, while that figure stands at 67.1% for Calabria, 66.7% for Sicily, and just 63.9% for Bolzano, according to Gimbe’s data.

The percentage of each Italian region's total population who are fully and partially vaccinated as of October 13, 2021.
The percentage of each Italian region’s total population who are fully and partially vaccinated as of October 13, 2021. Source: Gimbe Foundation.

Meanwhile Lab24 shows full vaccination rates of 77.4% in Valle d’Aosta, 73.9% in Bolzano, 74.9% in Calabria, and 73.2% in Sicily among the eligible population over 12.

Which areas have the highest rate of vaccination coverage?

Despite some variations in the rankings, both sets of data have Tuscany, Lombardy, Puglia, and Lazio among the top five regions for vaccination coverage.

Lombardy tops the Gimbe Foundation’s chart with full vaccine coverage of 77.7% of its total population, with Molise (76.2%), Puglia (76.1%), Tuscany (75.9%), and Lazio (75.6%) coming in close behind.

Lab24 has Lazio racing ahead with 84.3% of its eligible population over 12 fully vaccinated, with Lombardy (84.1%), Puglia (84%), Emilia Romagna (83.6%), and Tuscany (83.5%) following close behind.

Percentages of fully and partially vaccinated members of the eligible population over 12 by region.
Percentages of fully and partially vaccinated members of the eligible population over 12 by region. Source: Il Sole 24 Ore

Starker differences emerge when you start to look at specific demographics.

Gimbe’s latest data of October 13th shows that among over-50s, 14.7% of the population in Calabria, 14,1% in Bolzano, 13.9% in Sicily, and 13.4% in Friuli Venezia Giulia have yet to receive a single dose of the vaccine.

That figure drops to just 5.3% when it comes to Puglia’s population over 50, followed by Molise at 5.9%, Lombardy at 6.7%, Lazio at 6.9%, and Tuscany at 7.1%.

Percentage of over-50s by region who had not received a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of October 13, 2021
Percentage of over-50s by region who had not received a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of October 13, 2021. Source: Gimbe Foundation

As for third doses (for which only a small proportion of the population are eligible), these show by far the greatest regional variation.

Italy began administering third doses of the Covid-19 vaccine towards the end of September, starting with the most at-risk members of the population on September 20th, and adding health and and social care workers and the over-80s one week later.

EXPLAINED: Who can access a third dose of the Covid vaccine in Italy?

The health ministry extended the offer to all over-60s from October 8th, although everyone apart from the immunosuppressed must wait at least six months from their last vaccine before receiving the booster.

As many as 18.3% of Molise’s eligible population had received a third dose of the vaccine as of October 13th, according to Gimbe’s data. 

Percentage of the population by region who had received a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of October 13, 2021.
Percentage of the population by region who had received a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of October 13, 2021. Source: Gimbe Foundation

Piedmont follows behind with a comparatively modest 13.2%, Umbria at 11.6%, Campania at 11.4%, and the autonomous province of Trento at 7.2%.

Zero third doses had been administered in Valle d’Aosta by the same date, with only 1% of people who are eligible in Calabria, 1.5% of those in Basilicata, 1.8% in Sardinia, and 1.9% in Sicily having received the booster.

While Italy’s vaccination campaign continues to gradually progress, the rate of new vaccines administered has dropped off in recent weeks, and the country lags behind France, which has now inoculated 90% of its population.

In an effort to boost coverage and keep infection rates down, the Italian government introduced a new rule on Friday requiring all workers to show a Covid-19 health certificate or ‘green pass’ to access any workplace.

READ ALSO: How Italy is enforcing the new workplace green pass rules from Friday

Muted protests were seen across the peninsula as the law came into force on Friday, but no significant disruptions or violence were reported by Italian media.

A protest held in Rome the previous weekend attracted 10,000 people and descended into violence after members of a neo-fascist group ransacked buildings and clashed with the police, leaving 38 officers injured.

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COVID-19 STATS

Italy pushes for more vaccinations as Covid incidence rate rises sharply

Italy’s health authorities reported another worsening of the health situation over the past week, with case incidence numbers rising further.

The city of Trieste in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is currently one of the areas with the highest Covid incidence rates in Italy.
The city of Trieste in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is currently one of the areas with the highest Covid incidence rates in Italy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new coronavirus data monitoring report from Italy’s health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS) released on Friday showed that  the nationwide incidence of coronavirus cases had risen to 78 per 100,000 inhabitants in the week ended November 11th, up from 53 in the week ended November 4th 

The new figures also show that the country’s Rt rose to 1.21 between October 20th and November 2nd, up from 1.15 the week before.

An Rt number above 1 indicates that the epidemic is in a phase of expansion.

READ ALSO: Is Italy likely to bring back Covid restrictions this Christmas?

While the number of residents taking rapid antigen tests has spiked in recent weeks following a mandate for all workers produce an Italian health certificate or ‘green pass’ to access their workplace, the Rt is thought to be unaffected, as only symptomatic cases and hospitalisations are taken into account in calculating the number, reports news agency Ansa.

Green passes are available to everyone who is vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19, but can also be obtained by getting a negative test. The requirement to produce a green pass has been in place for all workers in Italy since October 15th.

The occupancy of hospital beds by Covid patients has also risen marginally in the last couple of weeks, to 6.1 percent general ward and 4.4 percent intensive care occupancy as of November 11th, up from 5.3 percent general ward occupancy on October 28th and 4 percent ICU occupancy on November 4th.

The occupancy rates currently remain below those needed to trigger an alert that would require a given Italian region to return from the least-restricted ‘white zone’ to the more restricted ‘yellow zone’ rules.

READ ALSO: Italy’s fourth Covid wave ‘can be reduced’, says health expert

Photo: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP

Italy’s government has said a region must face increased restrictions when Covid patient occupancy of ICU beds reaches 10 percent and occupancy of general hospital wards reaches 15 percent; and when case incidence rates are at 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is currently considered at high risk of being returned to yellow zone rules, while 20 other regions and autonomous provinces are at moderate risk, reports Ansa. Calabria is the only region classed as low risk.

With millions of Italian residents yet to receive a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Italy’s politicians and health experts say that more coverage is needed to keep the numbers down.

To stop the curve from rising further “we need to increase first vaccinations among those who have not had it,” said Franco Locatelli, head of the Italian government’s Scientific Technical Committee (CTS), at a press conference last Friday, adding that medical personnel and the elderly also needed to get their boosters to prevent immunity from waning. 

The health ministry now plans to roll out more booster shots as well as aiming to have 90 percent of the eligible population vaccinated.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday that third doses will be extended to those aged between 40-59 from December 1st.

READ ALSO: How to get a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot in Italy

“We started with the immuno-compromised, the frail, health workers, over 60s and those who had J&J who can have booster shots after six months,” Speranza said in answer to a question in Parliament, news agency Ansa reports.

He said administering more booster shots was “absolutely strategic for our vaccine campaign”.

Health authorities are reportedly aiming to start offering the booster to all age groups from early 2022.

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