Italy could soon make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory, PM says | Italy
The Italian Prime Minister has announced that his government may make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory, sparking a feud in the country which has seen a recent increase in anti-vaccine protests and violence.
During a press conference on Thursday, Mario Draghi said all Italians of eligible age may soon be required to be vaccinated, as soon as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives conditional approval for four vaccines.
The news sparked protests from anti-vaccines, which in recent days have sent death threats to members of the government, virologists, health officials and journalists, because of their pro-vax positions.
Turin prosecutors on Tuesday opened an investigation into an antivax discussion group on Telegram, where members published death threats against Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.
“Another rat to run,” “We need lead” and “You must die,” were some of the messages.
On Sunday evening, a leading virologist and infectious disease expert at San Martino Hospital in Genoa, Matteo Bassetti, was approached by a man, who started following him and shouting: “You are going to kill us all with these vaccines and we’ll charge you.
The next day, during a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Education organized by anti-vaccines, a journalist from the Italian national newspaper La Repubblica was assaulted by a protester who punched him in the face.
Draghi expressed “his full solidarity with all those who have been subjected to hateful and cowardly violence from anti-vaccine”.
The protests began after the government extended the Covid-19 green pass – a digital or paper certificate that shows whether someone has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, or a negative Covid test, not performed more than 48 hours before using trains, planes, ferries and coaches. In Italy, the green pass is also required for long distance travel and is compulsory for school workers.
In Turin, some teachers announced that they had taken legal action against a school principal after being prevented from entering classes without green passes.
Draghi, who said 80% of Italians would be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of September, announced his government was working to further extend the use of the green pass to other leisure activities as the country could become the first in Europe will make vaccination compulsory for all, when the EU health authorities give their full approval.
According to media reports, the EMA could make a final decision by the end of next week.
The news in Italy caused a lot of tension even within the ruling coalition. League leader Matteo Salvini said he would vote “no”, citing that his party will always be “against bonds, fines and discrimination”.
Currently, in Italy, the vaccine is only compulsory for medical personnel. The country was the first to introduce mandatory vaccinations for doctors, followed by France.
For the moment, only Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia and Turkmenistan have introduced compulsory vaccinations for all.
In the rest of the world, jabs are only compulsory for certain categories of workers.
In Greece, all healthcare workers will need to be vaccinated by the end of September. In the UK, from October it will be mandatory for nursing home operators.
In early August, France passed a law making vaccinations mandatory for health workers, while Russia ordered all workers in public roles to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with companies having one month to complete. ensure that at least 60% of staff received the first doses. , or they would face fines or temporary closure.
US President Joe Biden has urged local governments to pay people to get vaccinated and to establish new rules, requiring federal workers to provide proof of vaccination, or be subject to regular testing, warrants of mask and travel restrictions.