Italy’s COVID-19 vaccine bookings rise by a third after government makes the Green Pass mandatory for all employees

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Italy’s vaccine bookings have soared since last week, when the Italian government broke ranks with the rest of Europe and insisted that all workers show a COVID-19 health pass or face suspension from work.

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Over the weekend, the Italian government’s vaccine czar, Francesco Paolo Figuolo, said reservations on Saturday for the first dose of the vaccine were 35 percent higher than a week earlier. “Nationally, there was a general increase of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent in bookings for the first dose,” he said.

The vaccine rush comes days after the government made it mandatory, effective, for the country’s entire workforce — public and private — to show proof of recent recovery from infection, or a recent negative test. Is.

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If employees do not produce so-called green passes, they can be suspended from work without pay and fined up to €1,500 ($2,250), although they cannot be fired. Employers who do not check whether workers have green passes face fines of up to €1,000. The need affects Italy’s 23 million workers.

The Vatican announced on Monday that green passes would be required for all visitors.

The Green Pass is, in fact, a national vaccine mandate designed to make life for the unvaccinated unbearable. To meet the vaccine requirement, workers who have never been infected will need a COVID-19 test every 48 hours. Such tests are no longer free in Italy. Rapid tests performed by pharmacies cost €15 or more. More accurate PCR tests are at least twice that price.

Until now, vaccines were only mandatory for medical workers, and the green pass rule was only for teachers and other school staff.

The Italian government is gambling that there will be no vaccine reaction, or only a minor one. While there is substantial vaccine hesitation in Italy – far-right populist parties call mandatory vaccines an attack on freedom – it is not as much as in France and some other EU countries. Italians are used to vaccines. Mandatory for other diseases including measles, hepatitis B, polio and tetanus.

For the most part, Italians have adopted COVID-19 vaccines; After a slow start earlier this year, the country has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, matching Canada. About 74 percent of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, although in some areas, such as Sicily, that is relatively low. About 3.5 million Italians over the age of 50 have yet to be vaccinated.

Italy aims to reach 80 per cent by the end of September and keep going. “I don’t know if we can talk about herd immunity, but we need 90 percent vaccination to keep the virus under control,” Mr Figuolo said.

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Italy’s green pass system is one of the most widespread in Europe and one of the world’s toughest ways to deal with a pandemic that has been particularly devastating to Italians. “Nothing like this has been done in Europe,” Public Administration Minister Renato Bruneta said. “We are putting ourselves at the forefront of the international stage.”

According to the Department of Civil Defense, 130,310 Italians have died of COVID-19 since the first lockdown in February 2020. It is the second highest in Europe, with some 4.6 million Italians infected after the UK.

While new cases are well off their spring peak, they began to climb again in July as the highly infectious Delta variant took over. On Sunday, 3,838 new cases were reported in Italy. Health officials fear school reopening this month will increase infection rates and fill the intensive care unit.

This week, Italy launched its campaign to give a third dose to people at high risk, such as cancer victims and transplant recipients.

Italy’s move to effectively make vaccines mandatory for all employees is designed to avoid further restrictions and possibly lockdowns and build on last year’s economic gains. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the pandemic pushed the G7 country into a deep recession in 2020. This year, Italy’s economy is expected to expand by 5.9 percent, but will not reach pre-pandemic production until the first half of 2022. development.

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