Italy offers boosters to those over 40 amid fourth Covid wave

Age group eligible from December 1 after rising case numbers

A pharmacist administers a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Italy is expanding the number of people eligible for a booster vaccine as the fourth wave in the Covid-19 pandemic grips Europe.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday that anyone 40 years or older can have the booster shot starting on December 1.

Italy has already offered boosters to those aged 60 years and older who received their last vaccine dose at least six months earlier.

The country has not been hit as hard in the latest wave of the pandemic as some northern countries including Austria and Germany, and several nations in eastern Europe.

Italian authorities are rushing to keep it that way.

Experts credit in large part Italy’s vaccination rate. Almost 84 per cent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Since early in the pandemic, Italy has also required masks to be worn indoors in places such as supermarkets, cinemas, churches and on mass transport.

Other anti-pandemic measures include the requirement starting this autumn for a Green Pass, which is proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test result for access to workplaces.

The certification was already required for indoor dining, gyms, museums and theatres.

Mr Speranza called the boosters “an essential piece of our strategy to combat Covid.”

“The more this country succeeds in bolstering itself in speeding up the administrating of the third dose, the more we will be able to manage the end of autumn and winter, which pose a wide-open challenge and won’t be easy to handle,” he said.

All of those who received the single-dose vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson are also eligible for a booster, regardless of age.

So far, almost 40 per cent of people eligible for the boosters in Italy have had it, government figures show.

Doctors and virus experts have said about 25 per cent of all recent cases in Italy have been among minors, and authorities are hoping regulators will soon approve Covid-19 vaccines for those aged 5 to 11.

Among the hardest hit regions recently has been Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Clusters of the virus outbreak have been linked to frequent protests in the port city of Trieste by unmasked and unvaccinated demonstrators against the Green Pass workplace rule.

Updated: November 10, 2021, 10:08 PM