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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italian man tries to dodge Covid vaccine using fake arm

An Italian man who wanted a coronavirus vaccination certificate without actually having the jab presented health workers with a fake arm, officials said on Friday.

A health worker administers a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine into a patient's arm.
A syringe with a vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus disease is injected into a patient's arm at dr. Andreas Carganico's office ahead the start of COVID-19 vaccinations in doctors' surgeries, in Berlin, Germany, on March 11, 2021. (Photo by HANNIBAL HANSCHKE / POOL / AFP)

Nobody was fooled by the silicone limb, and the man, in his 50s, was reported to local police following the incident on Thursday night in the town of Biella, northwest Italy.

“The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity,” the leader of the Piedmont regional government, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.

He said the man’s actions were “unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost.”

READ ALSO: ‘Get vaccinated’: Italian virologists urge caution over Omicron Covid variant

The fake arm incident came after a doctor in Ravenna was arrested last month for issuing fake vaccination certificates to patients who refused the vaccine.

Stricter health pass rules come in on Monday in Italy, meaning new restrictions for people who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Since August, a ‘Green Pass’ showing proof of vaccination, recent recovery from coronavirus or a negative test has been required for indoor dining in restaurants, to visit museums, cinemas, theatres and attend sporting events.

Q&A: How will Italy’s new Covid ‘super green pass’ work?

But from December 6th, these activities will be restricted to holders of a ‘Super Green Pass’, which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently had Covid-19.

The old pass was extended in October to cover all workplaces, and remains valid for this purpose, meaning the unvaccinated can still go to work by showing a recent negative test. It can also be used for access to public transport and venues deemed “essential”.

The new restrictions were introduced following an increase in Covid-19 cases, as the Italian government aimed to avoid new business closures and travel restrictions this Christmas.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s Covid green pass rules change in December

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020, but is currently faring better than many of its neighbours.

On Thursday, 16,800 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, with 72 deaths.

Almost 85 percent of the eligible population (aged over 12) are already fully vaccinated, and this week the option of a booster dose was extended to all adults.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

Italy has extended the availability of a second Covid-19 vaccine booster shot as infection rates surge across the country.

Italy approves fourth Covid vaccine doses for over-60s

The Italian health ministry announced that fourth Covid vaccine doses, or second booster shots, will soon be available to all residents aged 60 and over, as national medicines regulator Aifa gave the green light on Monday.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday that doses could be administered to this age group “immediately”, as Italy “moves in line” with recommendations from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“In the coming hours, immediately, already today, we will adapt our guidelines, our circulars and our indications. We will immediately open up administration in our regions.

“We mustn’t think that the battle against Covid is won. It is still ongoing and we must keep the level of caution high,” he said.

The health ministry confirmed in an update on its website that second booster doses were now recommended to “all persons aged 60 years or older, provided there has been an interval of at least 120 days since the first booster dose or the last post-booster infection (date of positive diagnostic test)”.

READ ALSO: Fourth jabs and isolation: Italy’s plan to control Covid cases this summer

The availability of fourth doses will vary by region, as each local health authority is responsible for managing the timing of its own vaccination campaign.

Several regions, including Lazio (around Rome) and Lombardy (around Milan), said on Monday that they would allow over-60s to book their fourth jabs within the coming days.

A fourth dose can be booked as usual, via pharmacies or family doctors, and via regional booking websites where available. (Find more information in a separate article here.)

Speranza didn’t say when second booster shots may be rolled out to all age groups, stating only that “a new vaccination campaign” is set to begin in September.

Health authorities have previously said they are not planning to make a fourth dose mandatory, though an annual “top-up” shot is likely to be offered.

Until now, only over-80s, care home residents, and clinically vulnerable patients have been eligible for a fourth shot in Italy.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

But health experts are also urging the government to speed up the administration of fourth jabs to these vulnerable groups: uptake remains far lower than hoped so far, with 78 percent of over-80s not getting theirs yet.

With the coronavirus infection rate now at its highest level since February, and the number of hospitalisations expected to keep rising in the coming weeks, the health ministry has not said whether it plans to bring back any recently-scrapped health measures.

For now, the government’s strategy appears to be focused on maintaining the relatively high rate of vaccination coverage in Italy: 90 percent of the population over 12 years old has been fully vaccinated with at least two doses, official figures show.

Find out more about booking a booster shot in Italy in a separate article here. See the government’s ‘prenotazione vaccino‘ (vaccine booking) website for links to regional authorities’ appointment reservation platforms.

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