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.
READ ALSO: Italy to impose ‘super green pass’ Covid restrictions on unvaccinated
“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.”
READ ALSO: Italy allows Covid boosters for over-40s as infection rate rises
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.
READ ALSO: Q&A: How will Italy’s new Covid ‘super green pass’ work?
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.
There remains, I believe, no way for a person without a tessera sanitaria to get the vaccine or booster shots. I just visited at an ASL site and they indicated I would just have to wait until I registered for my tessera sanitaria.
I appreciate not wanting to provide vaccinations to people from all over the world, but it seems counter-productive to exclude a variety of people living or staying over a period of time in Italy from vaccinations, while not included in the healthcare system.
It’s not only the people with tessera sanitaria who catch COVID. I saw that over 5 million foreign nationals live in Italy, or about 8% of the country. I’m sure many have their permesso di soggiorno’s and a sanitaria registration, however there are probably quite a few “in transition.”
Let’s assume you arrive and have a 1 year Visa and apply for your permesso. It would still take (currently estimated times) 90 days to complete the permesso process. All that time is there is a risk of being exposed to COVID.
There are many things not good about healthcare services in the USA, but in terms of the COVID vaccinations, you can now make an appointment at any pharmacy and get your shot, go through your doctor/provider, or participate in community programs and use local clinics and hospitals for access. (And the shot is free.)
I respectlyfully submit that looking at distributing vaccinations outside of the Italian health service system might be prudent, especially with variants cropping up and threatening gains previously made in nation-wise immunization.