Italy to boost vaccination of teenagers ahead of school reopening

FILE PHOTO: A woman receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Music Auditorium in Rome, Italy, August 5, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government has urged regions to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations for those aged between 12 and 18, in an effort to extend the campaign before schools and sports activities restart across the country.

In a letter addressed to regional governors, seen by Reuters, the government’s special COVID Commissioner Francesco Paolo Figliuolo on Wednesday called on the regions to vaccinate youngsters without them requiring a reservation.

“In order to fast-track vaccinations among the 12 to 18-year-olds … you should give them priority even if they don’t have a booking,” Figliuolo wrote, saying the new policy should apply from Aug. 16.

Italy’s 20 regional governments have front-line responsibility for organising and carrying out inoculations.

Some 40% of around 4.6 million Italians aged below 19 have had at least one vaccine dose and around 23% are fully inoculated, latest government data show.

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are the only COVID-19 shots approved for adolescents in Italy.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged last week that the school year would begin in September with face-to-face classes, and he has made it mandatory for teachers to have proof of immunity from the virus.

As of Aug. 11 some 66% of Italians had received at least one shot against COVID-19, of whom 56% were fully vaccinated. The figures are broadly in line with those of most continental European countries.

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