The regional health authorities in Italy's region of Lazio have begun the 2004 influenza vaccination campaign. 12 million has been set aside for the campaign which aims to protect at least 70 per cent of the population aged over 65, as well as anyone with health problems such as diabetes or asthma. The vaccine is also advised for people who work in the health sector, with young children or with the elderly, as well as for members of the security forces and anyone who works with animals. Vaccination is free to anyone in these categories and can be obtained on a prescription from a health service doctor. Those who do not come into the "free" category should obtain a prescription and buy the vaccine in any pharmacy.
Girolamo Sirchia, Italian minister of health, has now made an agreement with the producers and suppliers of flu vaccines to bring down the price to the public, from the original price 11-16 to 6-8. The reduction in price was demanded when consumers became aware that the price of the vaccine in Italy was one of the highest in Europe - in Spain a flu vaccine over the counter costs 4.