What you need to know about getting a flu vaccination in Italy this year

Always an important part of the medical calendar, the seasonal flu vaccine campaign has taken on a new importance this year. Here's what you need to know about getting a flu jab in Italy.

What you need to know about getting a flu vaccination in Italy this year
Photo: AFP
Italy has begun its flu vaccination campaign early this year, as part of efforts to lower the strain on health services during the cornavirus emergency.
Every year, flu outbreaks affect between four and 15 percent of the population in Italy, placing a heavy burden on the healthcare system.
Health authorities are advising people to get vaccinated early this year before the flu begins to circulate.
As getting a vaccine is more important than ever in 2020, here's what you need to know.
Who needs to have a flu shot?
According to the Italian Ministry of Health, the at-risk categories eligible for a free flu shot are:
  • Over 65s (some regions extend the recommendation to over 60s)
  • Pregnant women (or those who are postpartum at the start of the epidemic season.)
  • People with long-term health conditions including asthma, diabetes, 
  • Anyone aged between 6 months to 65 years of age suffering from chronic diseases affecting the respiratory, cardio-circulatory, intestinal or neuromuscular systems, diabetes and severe obesity, chronic renal or adrenal insufficiency, hematopoietic organ diseases, tumors, immunosuppression drug induced or diseases such as HIV, hepatitis.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Relatives and contacts (adults and children) of those at high risk of complications (regardless of whether the person at risk has been vaccinated or not).
  • Doctors and health personnel.
  • Police and firefighers
  • Veterinarians
  • Blood donors

Anyone who does not fall into the above categories can buy a vaccine at a pharmacy, costing about €25, and have it inoculated by their doctor.

According to the Ministry of Health, “the flu vaccine is advised for all those who wish to avoid the flu and who do not have specific contraindications, after consulting their doctor.”

What about children?

While free vaccines are available for children in the US, UK, Canada, and several European countries, this is not the case nationwide in Italy.

At the moment, only a few regions in Italy offer free vaccination to children and adolescents who do not have long-term health conditions. Check with your doctor or local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or local health office) on the rules where you are.

Where and when can I get a vaccine?
This depends on which Italian region you live in, as procedures, availability and timing varies by local health authority.
If you are registered with your local ASL (health authority), contact their Prevention Department or your GP or pediatrician for more information.
Many foreign nationals living in Italy are not eligible for Italian state healthcare for a variety of reasons and need private cover.
If this is your situation, speak to a private doctor, who may be able to give you a prescription. Alternatively you may buy the vaccine at a pharmacy, depending on availability.

The flu vaccine campaign begins on different dates in different regions. In many areas it has already started. This is the date on which the region will release all available doses of the vaccine to healthcare providers, with a certain percentage reserved for sale at pharmacies.
Here's when the campaign starts in each region:
Abruzzo – 1 October
Basilicata – October 15th
Calabria – October 1st
Campania – October 1st
Emilia-Romagna – 12 October
Friuli Venezia Giulia -1 October
Lazio – 1 October
Liguria – 5 October
Lombardy – 19 October
Marche – October 15
Molise – October 15th
Piedmont – October 26th
Puglia – 1 October for those at risk, 1 November for the rest of the population
Sardinia – October 1st
Sicily – 5 October
Tuscany – 5 October
Trentino Alto Adige – 12 October
Umbria – 1st October
Valle D'Aosta – 12 October
Veneto – 12 October
Some regions are organising vaccination days at schools, while others including Lazio are allowing more pharmacies to give the vaccines.

However, in many areas the vaccine may not be available to some patients until several weeks after the start date, as many local health authorities say they are prioritising vaccines for at-risk patients during the first two to four weeks of the campaign.
In some areas, this is simply due to supply problems. As one pharmacist in Rome told the Repubblica newspeper: “Even if you want to buy the vaccine at the pharmacy, you will not find it. All the supply has been used for the at risk categories”.
Health authorities have urged people not to rush to get vaccinated, stressing that the vaccine will also be availble later in the year, with campaigns in most regions running until the end of January 2021.
Flu season in Italy is currently expected to peak in December.

For more information, see the Ministry of Health's flu information website or contact your local ASL.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Løhde has warned that, despite increasing activity at hospitals, it will be some time before current waiting lists are reduced.

Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

The message comes as Løhde was set to meet with officials from regional health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the progress of an acute plan for the Danish health system, launched at the end of last year in an effort to reduce a backlog of waiting times which built up during the coronavirus crisis.

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services agreed in February, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

The national organisation for the health authorities, Danske Regioner, said to newspaper Jyllands-Posten earlier this week that progress on clearing the waiting lists was ahead of schedule.

Some 245,300 operations were completed in the first quarter of this year, 10 percent more than in the same period in 2022 and over the agreed number.

Løhde said that the figures show measures from the acute plan are “beginning to work”.

“It’s positive but even though it suggests that the trend is going the right way, we’re far from our goal and it’s important to keep it up so that we get there,” she said.

“I certainly won’t be satisfied until waiting times are brought down,” she said.

“As long as we are in the process of doing postponed operations, we will unfortunately continue to see a further increase [in waiting times],” Løhde said.

“That’s why it’s crucial that we retain a high activity this year and in 2024,” she added.

Although the government set aside 2 billion kroner in total for the plan, the regional authorities expect the portion of that to be spent in 2023 to run out by the end of the summer. They have therefore asked for some of the 2024 spending to be brought forward.

Løhde is so far reluctant to meet that request according to Jyllands-Posten.