Over-50s will require a ‘super green pass’ health certificate (showing the bearer is vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid) to enter their workplace from February 15th, while anyone (employed or not) in this age group who remains unvaccinated as of February 1st will be fined 100 euros, according to the government’s January 5th decree.
Those who do not get their booster shot could also face a 100-euro fine under the new vaccine mandate for over-50s.
The government hopes the requirement will prevent healthcare facilities from becoming overwhelmed by Covid cases, and allow the country to remain open as people return to work and school after the Christmas break.
“We are working in particular on the age groups that are most at risk of being hospitalised, to reduce pressure on hospitals and to save lives,” said Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the cabinet meeting where the measure was adopted.
The new rules for the first time impose a vaccine requirement on anyone living in Italy aged 50 or over, or anyone due to turn 50 by June 15th (the date by which the mandate is currently due to expire).
The fines will be collected by Italy’s Agenzie delle Entrate (Inland Revenue-Recovery Agency) based on data passed on from the country’s national health system, according to the text of the decree.
Those who are notified that they are in violation of the rules have ten days to communicate to their local health office (Azienda sanitaria locale or Asl), the reason for their vaccination status.
Certain categories of people, including those with certified medical conditions and those who have recovered from Covid in the past six months, are exempt from the requirement (though the Covid-recovered must get vaccinated once the six months are up).
The decree also specifies that the 100 euro fine applies to those who as of February 1st have not completed their primary vaccination cycle “in accordance with the instructions and within the timeframe provided in the Ministry of Health’s circular,” as well as those who haven’t received a booster shot within the required timeframe.
However, exactly what those timeframes are is left ambiguous.
For receiving a booster, the decree references previous laws which offer up both six months and nine months from the last shot as possible timeframes. For now, it’s safest to assume that you should get your booster shot within six months of your last dose to avoid the fine; this is how Italian news outlets such as il Quotidiano have interpreted the decree.
Booster shots are currently available to all adults in Italy four months after completion of the initial vaccination cycle. Find out how to book a booster shot in Italy here.
When it comes to the timeframe for completing the initial vaccination cycle, the decree text remains unclear and the government may be yet to issue further guidance. The Local is seeking clarification.
Regardless, those who have received or are shortly due to receive their primary dose should ensure they schedule their second dose within the timeframe recommended by the healthcare provider administering the shot.
In recent days Italy has seen record highs in its Covid infection rates, with over 196,000 new cases recorded on Wednesday, and hospitals have reported being inundated by patients suffering from Covid symptoms. Most of those hospitalised with the virus are unvaccinated and over the age of 50.
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 of the entire population is fully jabbed) it’s estimated that around 2.3 million people aged over 50 in the country have still not had a single dose.
Find more information about Italy’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).