Italy considers making Covid vaccine mandatory for the over 60s

The Italian government has begun a meeting to discuss making vaccines compulsory for the over 60s among a raft of other new health measures, as Covid cases continue to surge and hospitalisations increase.

An elderly lady in Italy receives the Covid vaccine.
Italy is discussing making vaccination mandatory for the over 60s. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Talks have started on the latest change to the nationwide Covid-19 health measures in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, as Italy reported a record high of 170,000 cases on Tuesday.

This will be the third Covid decree after the government already brought in two previous ones in as many weeks.

Calendar: When do Italy’s Covid-19 rules change?

Included in the draft decree is the proposal to make vaccines compulsory for the most fragile members of society at greatest risk of falling seriously ill from Covid – those over 60 years old.

The move is hoped to reach the some 1.5 million people in this category who have yet to receive a single dose, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The far-right League party is in favour of a vaccine mandate for this age group. Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia said this would be “precisely to protect the most fragile segments of the population”, reports news agency Ansa.

But Italy’s centrist Five Star Movement party is reportedly opposed to the idea. Its current leader and former prime minister, Giuseppe Conte said, “It seems paradoxical to reason about compulsory vaccination when even those who make themselves available for the third dose find it difficult to do so quickly.”

Other ideas on the table are extending the ‘super green pass’ to all workplaces, effectively meaning all workers will need to get vaccinated.

Only healthcare staff, police, teachers and emergency services workers are currently subject to mandatory vaccinations. While this is a possibility for all staff, it’s expected the government will approve expanding the super health certificate requirement.

The ‘super’ or ‘reinforced’ green pass health certificate, which proves vaccination or recovery, has already been made compulsory for access to almost all leisure, social or sporting activities in the country, but workplaces so far are not subject to the rule.

Also to be decided are the new rules on quarantine and distance learning for schools ahead of their return to class after the festive break.

Member comments

  1. The continued vulnerability may not be with the over 60’s (although I see the reasoning), but with the lack of vaccinations available to non-registrants of the Italian healthcare system. The lack of vaccination availability might span entire age groups of that group of people.

    Consider, for example, the individual who has been fully vaccinated with two, or even three, shots prior to entering Italy. They might be here for 90 days or for a year, perhaps even longer. They cannot obtain a vaccination without a healthcare system number. At present, many have to return to their home country to get additional shots.

    The less travel and travel contacts made to achieve full vaccination and protection for all countries is to open the shots to everyone – citizen, ex-patriot, visitor and the like. Charging for those shots would be acceptable, I’m sure, to those seeking vaccinations.

    The benefit isn’t just for the individuals, but the whole community.

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‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.