Italy ‘ready to consider’ mandatory Covid jabs as campaign slows

Italy is considering achieving its vaccination targets by making vaccines mandatory.
Italy is the first EU country to consider making vaccines mandatory. Photo: Theo Rouby/AFP
As Italy's vaccination campaign slows down and Covid cases rise, the government has reignited the debate on whether to make vaccines mandatory in order to meet immunisation targets.

“Compulsory vaccination for some categories is absolutely not a taboo and we are ready to consider it,” stated Italy’s deputy Health Secretary Andrea Costa in a TV interview on Tuesday night.

First discussed in September, Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed that he was in favour of mandatory vaccines once EMA and AIFA (the European and Italian drug regulators) have fully authorised their use.

While no other European country is looking at introducing mandatory vaccination for the general public, Italy’s health minister said in September that he would go ahead with the plan “without fear” if deemed necessary to “protect the right to health”.

Now that Italy has set a new target of covering 90 percent of the eligible population, authorities are looking at how to encourage those still unvaccinated to get their shots.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Covid infections almost double in a week as vaccine rate falls

“I believe that 90 percent is a quota that would allow us an endemic management of the pandemic,” Costa said.

By now there is an awareness that we can no longer talk about herd immunity, because even a vaccinated person can contract the virus, but it is much milder.”

“The government’s goal is to ensure that no more citizens die of Covid and no more end up in intensive care. The 90 percent target creates these conditions,” Costa added.

Currently, Italy has vaccinated almost 84 percent of the eligible population over 12 years old, according to the latest government data.

A medical worker fills a syringe with a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine. Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

Authorities have so far given no indication as to when vaccinations could actually be made mandatory, or for which groups. However, it would depend on the uptake of immunisations from those who are eligible to be vaccinated but have still chosen not to. 

All healthcare workers in Italy have been subject to a vaccine mandate since a law was passed in April.

“Let’s face these weeks, let’s see what the vaccination data will be, after that we hope that there will be a sense of responsibility that will prevail,” stated Costa.

He spoke of how those who have not been immunised are enjoying more freedom thanks to those who are vaccinated.

READ ALSO: Italy ‘rediscovering normality’ thanks to high Covid vaccination rate, official says

“I hope that they will become aware that getting vaccinated not only protects their lives, but also allows the country to continue on the path towards a return to normality and economic recovery,” he added.

Should Italy meet its goal of vaccinating 90 percent, there could be changes to the current anti-Covid measures in place.

“I think we can open a new phase and review even the restrictive measures, such as the use of the green pass,” confirmed Costa.

Authorities are currently discussing whether to extend Italy’s green pass system until March amid a significant increase in positive Covid cases.

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The ‘certificazione verde‘ or green pass as it’s called in Italy shows that the holder has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid or has tested negative for the virus within the previous 48 or 72 hours, depending on the type of test taken.

Following its introduction in June, Italy made the Covid health pass a requirement for all employees as well as customers at all public or private sector workplaces from the middle of last month.

Other containment measures such as the possible reintroduction of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors “is not a hypothesis” and is not set to return, Costa confirmed.


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