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KEY POINTS: How will Italy enforce its vaccine mandate for over-50s?

Vaccines are now mandatory for over-50s in Italy.
Vaccines are now mandatory for over-50s in Italy. Tiziana FABI / AFP
Italy has made it compulsory for all over-50s to get vaccinated. Here’s what we know about how it will enforce the requirement.

Who’s subject to the mandate?

Everyone currently aged 50 and over in Italy, as well as anyone due to turn 50 by June 15, 2022, is now required to get a Covid vaccine.

The text of the decree, which was published in Italy’s Official Gazette on January 7th, is explicit that the rules apply to all those resident in Italy – not just Italian citizens.

The sanction applies not just with regard to first doses, but also for anyone who as of February 1st has failed to complete their primary vaccination cycle ‘in accordance with the instructions and within the time provided by circular of the Ministry of Health’ or get their booster dose within the time frame stipulated in a decree issued on April 21, 2021 and updated on June 17, 2021, the decree says.

According to the news daily il Quotidiano, that means that anyone in the age bracket who has gone more than six months since receiving their last shot would be in violation of the mandate – even if they have completed the primary vaccination cycle.

Why is Italy targeting the over-50s?

The latest records from the national statistics agency Istat show that 28 million people in Italy out of a total of 59 million residents – almost half the population – are over the age of 50.

Whilst Italy has one of highest Covid vaccination rates in Europe (74 percent are fully jabbed) it’s estimated that around 2.3 million people aged over 50 in the country have still not had a single dose.

There have also been plenty of reports in Italian media of how unvaccinated Covid patients are ending up in hospital intensive care wards.

In recent days the country has seen record highs in its Covid infection rates, with over 196,000 new cases recorded on Wednesday. Pressure on hospitals is mounting, and the majority of those hospitalised due to Covid are unvaccinated and over 50. 

READ ALSO: Italy to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for over 50s

By introducing the mandate, the government hopes to avoid overwhelming healthcare facilities and keep the country open as people return from their Christmas holidays and schools start up again.

“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalised, to reduce pressure on hospital to save lives,” said prime minister Mario Draghi at the cabinet meeting where the measure was adopted.

READ ALSO : Italian hospitals inundated with Covid patients

When does the rule take effect?

Those who fall into the age bracket are required to get vaccinated from the day after the decree’s publication in the Official Gazette. As the decree was published on January 7th, the mandate came into force on January 8th.

To allow people time to book an appointment, sanctions won’t apply until February 1st.

From February 15th, workers aged 50 and over will need to produce a ‘super green pass’, which shows the bearer is vaccinated against or recently recovered from Covid, to enter their workplace.

A health worker administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
An individual receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on August 5, 2021 at the Ambreck pharmacy in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Are there any exemptions?

Cases where the Covid vaccine would pose an “established danger to health, in relation to specific documented clinical conditions, certified by a doctor” are exempted from the requirement to get vaccinated.

In addition, any over-50s who can prove they have recovered from Covid in the past six months will be able to go to work using their ‘super green pass’ without having had the vaccine. Once that six month period is up, however, employees will require a vaccine to have their green pass extended so they can continue going to work.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What’s in Italy’s latest Covid decree?

What are the penalties for refusing to get vaccinated?

Employees over 50 caught in their workplace without the super green pass are subject to fines of between 600 and 1500 euros.

Those barred from entering the workplace because they don’t have a pass can’t be fired, but will be marked as absent without leave and will have their pay frozen until they can produce the pass and resume their employment.

Aside from these worker-specific penalties, the decree states that anyone living in Italy over the age of 50 who is found to be unvaccinated by February 1st will be fined 100 euros.

How are the authorities going to check?

As far as workplaces are concerned, it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure their staff are complying with Covid restrictions. 

Employers that fail to do so face fines of between 400 and 1,000 euros. All workplaces are subject to periodic checks by police to determine whether the rules are being enforced.

As for 100 euro fines for unvaccinated residents over the age of 50, the decree states that the sanction “shall be carried out by the Ministry of Health through the Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency (…) by acquiring data made available by the Health Card System.”

Those who the Italian health system has registered as unvaccinated will be notified and have ten days to communicate to their local health authority the reason why they’re not vaccinated, the decree says.


Member comments

  1. Did that comment originate from the Local or from someone too spineless/ashamed to be named? What a disgusting fascist comment. You are obviously too stupid or brainwashed to see that this has nothing to do with health. None of these measures have any effect on slowing the virus – just look at ‘the elephant in the room’ that is Sweden. You are being lied to by your government – it is tragic to see this happen to such a beautiful country

    1. Hi We can assure you this comment was not made by a journalist at The Local but by a reader. We have contacted them to change their alias and warned them about their comment. Kind regards. Ben

  2. Hi We can assure you this comment was not made by a journalist at The Local but by a reader. We have contacted them to change their alias and warned them about their comment. Kind regards. Ben

  3. I agree completely. This comment from the local is disgusting. I remember the last time a group of people were rounded up, vilified and sent to camps. I thought that we’d learnt our lesson from history, but people seem to have been gripped by mass hysteria egged on by governments and mainstream media with sensible science ignored.

  4. Hi Malvin, We can assure you this comment was not made by a journalist at The Local but by a reader. We have contacted them to change their alias and warned them about their comment. Kind regards. Ben

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