The slowdown in Covid vaccination could make Italy the first European country to make injections mandatory for all adults, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in separate interviews.
The Italian government was the first to make the immunization of health professionals compulsory, a decision followed by those in France, Hungary and Greece. It also approved the obligation to provide proof of vaccination for entry into various public places, such as other countries.
The general mandatory vaccine — currently deployed in Indonesia, Micronesia and Turkmenistan, as well as in at least 12 Chinese cities — would be the last step, at a time when many European countries seem to be hitting some kind of vaccination cap.
In the Italian case, the figures show an accommodation of the percentage of people fully vaccinated, around 80% for those aged 50 to 59 and below this limit for those under 50. As a result, the number of doses administered daily in the country, which was 585,202, was less than half last Sunday, when about 272,000 injections were administered.
On average, 63% of Italians aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated, a number Draghi wants to raise to 80% by the end of this month. To do this, it needs to convince people who are uninterested, uninformed or resistant to injections.
Epidemiologists have reinforced the recommendation to increase as much as possible the percentage of citizens completely immunized, especially after the dissemination of the delta variant, which is more transmissible and capable of taking more people to hospitals, compared to other versions of the coronavirus.
The higher the proportion of protected individuals, the lower the chance of the pathogen infecting another person and keeping its transmission at a worrying level.
In July, Draghi had already criticized anti-vaccination activists: “The call not to get vaccinated is basically a death call. Either you get sick and die, or contaminate someone dies”.
Last Thursday (2), the prime minister said that he would consider making vaccination mandatory after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) definitively approves the immunizers — at the moment, those from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen are authorized in an emergency .
A decision by the agency is expected this month, but on Sunday (5), minister Roberto Speranza told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that it would not be necessary to wait for the definitive approval, as the safety and efficacy of the drugs are already proven. .
Mandatory vaccination is criticized by the far-right opposition, the Brothers of Italy party, but also by members of Draghi’s own coalition, such as the League, also on the radical right. The prime minister said that any new steps regarding vaccines would be discussed with the coalition’s leaders.
In recent weeks, anti-vaccination groups have attacked public health experts, government officials, scientists and journalists who advocated immunization. In Turin, the Public Ministry opened an investigation after members of a social media channel threatened Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio with phrases such as “you have to die” or “another mouse to be executed”.
Last week, the European regional of the WHO (World Health Organization) pointed out the anti-vaccination movements as a relevant obstacle to effectively contain the global pandemic.
Mandatory, however, is not the best strategy for this, says the director responsible for immunization at WHO/Europe, Siddhartha Datta. “People may have mistrust, doubts about the vaccine, and this is not a failure. They shouldn’t take the blame for it. We must listen to them, understand their fears and have the necessary data and arguments to respond,” he said.
In addition to being on the agenda of governments, mandatory immunization has already reached large corporations such as Netflix, Facebook and Google. The companies announced that only fully vaccinated employees will be allowed into their offices.
Know where and for whom vaccination is mandatory
for all adults
Indonesia, Micronesia, Turkmenistan
For healthcare professionals
Italy, France, Greece, Hungary, Fiji
For nursing home workers
Australia, Greece, United Kingdom (from October), part of Canada
For employees of quarantine locations
For civil servants
Russia, Canada, Fiji, some US states
for high risk people
Poland (under study)
In nightclubs or places with large crowds
In closed places like cinemas and theaters
Greece, some US locations
For Airline, Train and Cruise Ship Passengers
For every foreigner who enters the country