The use of new Moderna and Pfizer dual-strain or bivalent Covid vaccines was recommended for third booster jabs in groups more vulnerable to developing serious forms of Covid-19.
The fifth dose, or third booster jab, is now recommended for over-80s, vulnerable groups over 60, and residents of care homes.
Anyone over the age of 60 can also seek a fifth dose of the vaccine on request, regardless of their health status.
The fifth dose “should be taken soon as possible in the case of the elderly and frail people, as foreseen by the ministerial circular just issued,” said Roberto Cauda, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit of the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital, in an interview with news agency Ansa on Tuesday.
But “for the rest of the population, for which there is no precise recommendation but the fifth dose is still possible, I would wait,” he said.
A fifth dose can be administered 120 days after the last booster shot, or last Covid infection.
However, the booster can be received at the same time as other shots (apart from monkeypox vaccines), and authorities recommend it be administered alongside the annual flu vaccine.
The circular specifically referenced the new Spikevax and Cominarty bivalent vaccines; it’s unclear at this stage whether other, pre-existing vaccines will also be offered to those seeking the third booster.
The most up-to-date advice from Aifa says that patients will likely not have the option to choose their Covid vaccine.
A September press release from Aifa stated that the use of the bivalent vaccine for fourth dose/second booster shots is approved for ‘all subjects’ in Italy who want to get the booster, after the EMA previously gave them the green light for use in all patients over the age of 12.
How to book a booster shot
As health services are managed on a regional level in Italy, it may take some parts of the country longer than others to roll out the fifth dose programme. You can find contact details for your local health authority here.
Speak to your doctor for advice if you’re in an eligible group but booking for a fifth dose is not yet open via your region’s health authority website.