“From Monday, September 12th, bookings for the new dual-strain vaccines can begin at the regional level,” said director general of the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa), Nicola Magrini, at a health ministry press conference on Friday.
Booster shots will not be mandatory and will be offered to priority groups first, health authorities confirmed.
“The arrival of the new vaccines should strengthen the conviction of those who have to take the fourth dose because of their age or because they have other conditions,” Magrini said.
Aifa on Monday approved the Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) dual-strain vaccines, which are effective against both the original strain and the more recent Omicron variants.
Italy will receive 19 million doses of the new vaccines in September, said Franco Locatelli, president of Italy’s Higher Health Council (ISS), at the press conference.
The updated vaccines have been shown to “generate an antibody response against the Omicron Ba4 and 5 variants, which are the prevalent ones,” he said.
They represent “96 percent of all strains isolated in Italy so far”, he said.
Covid vaccines “have been a triumph of science and medicine” and “have saved millions of lives”, Locatelli added.
Booster jabs are currently recommended for those in higher-risk categories as Italy begins its autumn vaccination campaign.
Priority will be given to those who are still waiting to receive a second booster dose (the so-called fourth dose); therefore over-60s and people with health conditions that make them more susceptible to developing more severe forms of the Covid-19 disease, according to the latest memo from the health ministry.
Magrini said the priority list also includes “health workers, pregnant women, and residents of facilities for the elderly”.
But “it can also be administered to those under 60 who ask for it,” he added.
Booster shots can only be administered to those who received their last dose at least 120 days (about four months) earlier.
The vaccination campaign is expected to be expanded to all over-12s who have only completed the initial vaccination cycle. For this category, the new booster shot would be their third dose.
How do you book a booster shot?
As in previous vaccination campaigns, each regional health authority will manage their own local vaccination programmes, including their timing.
Bookings should work in much the same way as before, with patients being able to book their appointments through GPs, pharmacies or their ASL’s website where available.
Shots can be administered by family doctors as well as at designated vaccination hubs in more densely populated areas.
The autonomous province of Trentino said it will begin administering jabs immediately from Monday and will allow residents to begin booking jabs from Saturday, September 10th.
Other regions and autonomous provinces are expected to announce their plans in the coming days.
For further information on availability and reservation in your region, see the official vaccination booking website.