Italy opens Covid vaccinations to all over-16s

Rome: Italian regions got green light to extend Covid-19 vaccine appointments to everybody aged over 16 from Thursday.

Italy’s regions can make covid-19 vaccination appointments available to all people aged over 16 from June 3.

“We can further accelerate our campaign to overcome this difficult season,” wrote Italian health minister Roberto Speranza on Twitter.

“From 3 June, all regions will be able to open up to all age groups (over 16),” the government’s covid-19 commissioner General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo said last week.

Italy’s move to ramp up its vaccination programme comes as the Italian drug regulator (AIFA) approved the Pfizer-BioNtech coronavirus vaccine for 12 to 15-year olds earlier this week.

Until now Italy has prioritised the elderly and made vaccines available according to age categories, however from today regional health authorities will be permitted to open appointments to all adults.

However, as each region is managed by local health authorities, the procedure and age priority will vary greatly across the country.

For example, the Emilia Romagna region around Bologna will give priority to 12-15 year olds; the Lombardia region around Milan will focus on the 12-29 age group; and the Lazio region around Rome is set to continue its AstraZeneca “open days” for over-18s, according to Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Italy expects to receive 20 million anti-covid vaccines in June, with about 2.5 million doses arriving this week on top of the 3.5 million Pfizer doses already being distributed, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

About 370,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson were expected to arrive in Italy yesterday, with more than 1.7 million doses of Astrazeneca due today and almost 400,000 doses of Moderna set to arrive tomorrow, according to ANSA.

More than 12 million people in Italy, or 22 per cent of the population, have completed their vaccination cycle, while more than 23 million people have received a first shot, according to the latest data published by the government last night.