After a rather slow rollout, Italy takes its vaccination strategy one step forward and allows for companies to get their workers anti-Covid jabs. Alongside workers’ unions, the government signed today a specific protocol which allows for employees who want to get vaccinated to be able to get a dose through to their firm. The agreement is going to complete the anti-coronavirus safety protocol already adopted by Italian companies over the last months, and it is supposed to speed up vaccine penetration efforts in the country.
Vaccinations among workers will start in May and they will run parallel to the national vaccination strategy. Participation will be voluntary for firms and employees alike. Smaller companies might pair up with bigger ones to ease logistics, and the time that employees will spend to get vaccinated will be considered working time. In case of side effects in the days following the jab, each worker will be allowed to take a sick leave. According to the protocol, the vaccine will be offered to all employees regardless of their working contract, and with no age limit – so far, the national strategy has given priority to the elderly above 80 and 75 years of age. Finally, the firms will be in charge of organizing and setting up the vaccination spaces for their workers.
“Last night we have taken two important steps in the right direction, I think. We have updated the workplace safety protocol for Covid prevention and we have brought forward another agreement allowing firms to access the vaccines […]. This is an important step towards the recovery and towards going back to normality […]. Now we can look at the future again and ensure the safety of one million workers,” commented Minister of Labor Andrea Orlando.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza also shared his satisfaction: “The agreement that we have signed with Andrea Orlando, unions and firms is a great achievement. The vaccination protocol and the protocol on Covid safety will help us safeguard health in all workplaces. Only united we will win this battle,” he tweeted.
Over the past weeks, several companies in the country had signaled their availability and willingness to take part in the vaccination campaign, also by offering their premises to administer the vaccines among the general population. Some firms also announced they are ready to start producing the vaccines themselves.
Currently, about 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses per day are being inserted into phials at the factory site of American company Catalent, in the area of Anagni (Rome), although the bulk of production for all vaccine types is still taking place abroad. According to prime minister Mario Draghi, though, local production is going to be a central element to get Italy out of the pandemic. According to recent statements by Italian firms, vaccine production in the country could start taking place within the next 3-4 months.
Up until today, about 8 million people have been vaccinated in Italy – 13.4% of the total population – and about 6% (3.5 million) have already received a second dose. During April, Italy is expected to start receiving the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, adding up to the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, already available in the country. According to plans, Italy’s objective is to vaccinate 80% of its total population by the end of the summer. By the end of this month, the country foresees to reach its full administration capacity.
“During April we are combining solid vaccine deliveries with a check on the capacity of both vaccinators and vaccination points. If the system holds and allows us to reach 500,000 vaccinations per day by the end of the month, by the end of September we will be done with the vaccination campaign,” Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, head of the vaccination strategy, commented.