From February 1st, the validity period of Italy’s so-called ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass will decrease from nine to six months from the date of the last vaccination.
This means that, on that date, anyone with a green pass which was issued following vaccination against Covid-19 in August 2021 or earlier (and who has not yet had a booster shot) will see it expire.
A large proportion of people in Italy completed the initial vaccination cycle in summer 2021, and those who have not had a booster jab now face being barred from many venues and services in the country in the coming days and weeks as passes expire earlier than expected.
A valid ‘super’ green pass or vaccine pass is now a necessity for many aspects of everyday life in Italy, as it has been made a requirement for access to everything from public transport to restaurants and hotels. Over-50s and some groups of workers are also subject to a vaccine mandate.
The health ministry has over the past week been sending out email reminders to those with imminently expiring passes (based on their vaccination records and contact information given upon vaccination), advising them to book a third dose immediately in order to extend the validity by another six months.
“From February 1, the Covid-19 green certification will no longer be valid in Italy, following the change from 9 to 6 months of the validity period of certification of vaccination or recovery,” reads the email sent out by the health ministry, in both Italian and English.
Those who get a booster dose can “obtain a new certification which will have a duration of six months from the date of administration of the vaccine”, it continues.
Anyone with questions about getting vaccinated or obtaining the green pass is advised to consult the health ministry’s green pass website here (available only in Italian) or to call the freephone information hotline on 1500, which is open 24/7 and advertised as also being available in English.
The health ministry notes that anyone who has already booked their booster shot or has recovered from Covid-19 since their last dose should disregard the email reminder.
Will validity be extended for passes issued after booster shots?
Another problem concerns some of those who have already had a third or booster dose: the six-month validity is set to apply to all certificates of vaccination with either a second or third dose, meaning anyone who had their booster early could see their pass expire in the coming days or weeks
According to estimates published in Italian media this week, some 100,000 people in Italy would be likely to face this problem in March – mainly healthcare workers who were among the first to be vaccinated with a third dose from September.
There is also widespread concern that the rule change will prove problematic for foreign tourists from countries which began administering booster shots earlier than Italy, such as the US.
WIth no fourth dose available, the Italian government is now reconsidering the cut to validity according to Italian media reports.
It looks likely that ministers will decide to either keep the validity period at nine months, or even to extend it indefinitely for those who have had a booster. The six-month deadline is therefore expected only to apply to those who have had two shots.
However, no changes have been officially announced and the Italian government is yet to finalise plans on Monday.
Before a decision can be made, the government needs the green light from its panel of scientific experts, the comitato tecnico scientifico (CTS)
Following consultation with the CTS, a cabinet meeting is scheduled to begin at 3pm local time on Monday, January 31st, at which changes will be discussed.
This means any changes to the new rules are likely to be confirmed just hours before they come into force on Tuesday, February 1st.
The planned cut to the validity of the green pass from nine to six months was first announced on December 24th, and comes after the period was decreased to nine months from 12 on December 15th.
The government is also expected on Monday to review a number of other Covid-19 health measures, including the closure order applying to discos and dance venues set to expire on January 31st.
With Italy’s latest international travel rules due to expire on January 31st, Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance on January 27th extending most current measures, with some changes for arrivals from within the EU.
How to book your booster jab in Italy:
Boosters are available to everyone in Italy aged over 18 from four months after completion of the initial vaccination cycle.
However, as with the first dose, the process of actually booking your shot varies from region to region in Italy due to the highly decentralised healthcare system – and there are still bureaucratic obstacles for foreign residents who are not signed up to the country’s national health service.
You may be able to book online using Italy’s vaccination appointment booking portal – though this service is currently only available in certain regions including Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Marche, Sardinia, Sicily and Valle d’Aosta.
Each regional health authority also has its own booking system. Some regions, such as Puglia and Lombardy, have their own online booking portal. Find further links and contact details for every regional service here.
You may also want to check your regional authority’s website for details of vaccination open days being held in the near future.
In Sardinia, for example, the regional health councillor mandated last week that all vaccination hubs must hold open days and accept walk-ins without booking for booster jabs.
If you have already had your booster shot, find out how to download your updated green pass here.