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Venice Vaccinates Its Elderly On Iconic Vaporetto Waterbus

Residents of islands in Italy’s Venetian lagoon have been receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations on a vaporetto, Venice’s public waterbus. The unique mobile clinic is allowing elderly residents of further-flung islands to have easy access to the jabs.

Identified by special red livery, the waterbus vaccination station docked at the island of Sant’Erasmo, about 40 minutes from Venice using the normal waterbus service, on Easter Monday. This floating vaccine center enabled all of the island’s residents over 80 to receive their coronavirus jab. Numbering around 100, they arrived at the pier normally for passengers using the public transport service and queued up to receive their doses. Some inhabitants also came over from neighboring islands of Murano and Isola delle Vignole to avoid a lengthier journey into Venice or the mainland. 

The vaporetto, provided by the public transport service Actv, was kitted out by the local health service Ulss 3 Serenissima. Between the plastic seats, jab stations had been set up offering both the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Panels had been inserted to ensure privacy. 

Local media reports that the island’s parish priest and a food store owner were integral to the smooth running of the operation. They offered a ‘booking’ service for the many elderly residents who were unsure how to use the online booking platform or were not in possession of a computer. One resident, Rosella Busato, told a local newspaper, “I booked this way. I lost my brother to COVID, which had a real effect on me. As soon as the possibility arose [for the vaccine], I had no doubts.” 

Previously, the vaccination vaporetto had docked at the islands of Pellestrina and Burano. The hope is for this service to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to all those with mobility difficulties living in the lagoon. “As we continue the vaccine rollout,” said health official Edgardo Contato, “We are working to bring the vaccine directly to the elderly who live in isolated areas.” If necessary, vaccines are also being administered in people’s homes.

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