Italy allows covid booster vaccine after 5 months

Covid-19 booster shot "crucial" says health minister as Italy reduces gap between second and third dose by one month.

Italy is to offer a covid-19 vaccine booster five months after completing the first vaccination cycle, following the latest advice from the nation's medicine authority AIFA.

Italian health minister Roberto Speranza announced the news on Twitter on Monday evening, describing the covid booster dose as "crucial to better protect ourselves and those around us."

Italy's health ministry issued a circular on the measure, which comes into force on Wednesday, saying that the booster can be administered "five months (150 days) from the completion of the primary vaccination course, regardless of the vaccine previously used."

The government is also set to "evaluate" proposals put forward by regional leaders who are asking for fewer restrictions to apply to vaccinated people or those who have recovered from covid.

The news follows a meeting on Monday evening attended by Speranza, the regional affairs minister Maria Stella Gelmini and the undersecretary to the prime minister Roberto Garofoli.

Super Green Pass

Italy's regional governors, who are pushing for a 'Super Green Pass' with more stringent measures for the unvaccinated, participated in the meeting via video link.

Stressing the need to "protect the winter tourist season", the president of the northern Valle d'Aosta region Erik Lavevaz said the majority of regions share an approach "that leads to minor limitations for those who have joined the vaccination campaign."

The governor of the southern Calabria region, Roberto Occhiuto, said: "This time we have an advantage over the virus, and we cannot waste what we have done so far. The new measures would not be a punishment against the No Vax, they would be the consequence of their free, and for me irresponsible, choice."

The Sicilian regional president Nello Musumeci meanwhile is calling for compulsory vaccination which, he said, "is a necessity, it's no longer an option. How many more deaths must there be for someone to be convinced that there is no alternative to the vaccine, how many?".

The regions have reportedly requested a further meeting, before the cabinet convenes on Thursday, to discuss the contents of a possible new decree.

"These are very delicate hours, in which we are evaluating further choices to be made in the interest of the country during this still-open battle against the virus" - Speranza said on Monday - "In the coming days, the priority will be to keep the curve under control and avoid the explosion of contagion that we are seeing in many other European countries."

The health minister underlined the importance of "trying to stay together in this effort, essential and fundamental, which sees us engaged in the vaccination campaign," adding that more than 87 per cent of Italians over the age 12 have had the first vaccine dose.

Photo: Nurse at covid vaccination centre in Naples. Credit: Pasquale Senatore / Shutterstock.com.