Rome: Italy carried out its first vaccinations on December 27th, and the vaccine programme will be further rolled out from January.
Health authorities have stressed that vaccines against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus will not be immediately distributed to the general public, but given first to high-risk groups including medical staff and the elderly.
Doctors and health care workers are now getting the first doses – some 1.4 million people in total, the health ministry said. They will be followed by residents of care homes – just over 570,000 people.
Those aged over 80 will be next in line, followed by those aged 60-79, and those suffering from at least one chronic disease.
Vaccines will then be distributed to key workers such as teachers, police, and prison wardens.
The vaccine is free and voluntary. The health ministry has stated that it aims to offer the vaccine to the entire adult population by September.
The exact timeframe for vaccinations for each group may vary between Italy’s regional health authorities.
The Local has asked for clarification on exactly what will apply to foreign citizens resident in Italy. However, all current vaccines are available to everyone in the country regardless of citizenship, residency, or whether or not they are registered with the Italian national health service (SSN).
Italy’s current coronavirus emergency decree, which sets out the rules aimed at curbing infections, is in force until January 15th.
When the decree was announced on December 3rd, Italian government ministers said the country would “restart” from January 7th – when ski resorts are set to reopen and in-person classes can resume at schools.
However, doubt has been cast on whether school reopenings can go ahead as planned, as health experts say the contagion rate is still worryingly high.
Gyms and pools may be allowed to reopen “by the end of January”, the sports minister has said. But as with all the other rules and restrictons, this will depend on the contagion curve in the coming weeks.
There are fears that a “third wave” of infections is on the way, triggered by socialising and travel over the holiday period despite the tough restrictions in place.
We won’t know if this third wave has materialised until mid-January, when the new decree is due, meaning we’re unlikely to have confirmation of any planned changes under the next decree until then.
Ministers have confirmed that Italy will keep its current tiered sytem of restrictions in place after New Year.