Italy will offer the booster to anyone in the country aged 18 and up from the start of next month, the health minister announced at a press conference on Wednesday where he laid out the measures contained in the latest decree.
“We have an advantage, in part due to the courageous choices made in the previous months,” Speranza said, “and we want to try to maintain it by staying ahead of the virus”.
The booster has been available to anyone in Italy aged over 40 since November 22nd, after the government brought forward its planned start date for extending the eligibility criteria by 10 days.
“The contagion curve is rising in our country and, even more so, in European countries close to Italy. The vaccine is the main tool for reducing the spread of the virus and serious forms of disease,” Speranza said last week at an event organised by agricultural association Coldiretti.
“We are still inside the Covid challenge, and the numbers coming from EU countries indicate that there is a need to keep the level of attention very high.”
Italy’s new coronavirus decree, unanimously approved by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, tightens restrictions for the unvaccinated and limits the venues and services that they can access.
As of December 6th, the ‘super green pass’ health certificate, which can only be obtained by those who are vaccinated against or have recently recovered from Covid, will be required to access most ‘non-essential’ venues.
Up to now the basic ‘green pass’, which shows the holder is vaccinated against, recovered from, or has recently tested negative for the coronavirus has been accepted as valid in all situations.
The validity of the super green pass will also be reduced from 12 to nine months, amid indications that the protection afforded by the vaccine diminishes faster than previously thought.
The law contains a range of other measures designed to increase vaccine uptake and flatten Italy’s contagion curve, which currently exceeds the epidemic threshold.
From December 15th, vaccines will be mandatory for administrative staff working in healthcare facilities and care homes, school staff, police officers, those working in the military, and emergency services workers.
Healthcare workers in Italy, including pharmacy staff and care home workers, are already subject to a vaccine mandate under a law approved in April.
On Tuesday, Speranza announced that the health ministry would make boosters available to eligible groups five months after completion of the first vaccine cycle, down from the sixth month interval previously in place.
Almost 85 percent of Italy’s eligible population over 12 years old has now completed the first vaccination cycle, according to the latest figures.
Almost 3.5 million booster shots have been administered in Italy so far.