“We want to slow down the growth of the contagion curve and push Italians who still aren’t vaccinated to do so,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, according to a statement from his office. “We are acting in particular on age groups that are most at risk of hospitalization, to reduce pressure on hospitals and save lives.”
On Jan. 4, about 170,000 new infections were confirmed in the country of 59 million people, according to John Hopkins University data.
“Today’s measures aim to keep our hospitals functioning well and, at the same time, keep open schools and business activities,” Draghi told the cabinet, the prime minister’s spokesperson quoted him as saying.
Some 78 percent of Italy’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. About 36 percent have obtained a booster dose.
Although some studies and health officials have suggested that COVID-19 vaccines can lessen the severity of the disease, data has shown that the Omicron variant is infecting fully vaccinated individuals worldwide.
For example, about half of Omicron cases in a Texas hospital system are among those who are fully vaccinated, a study published earlier this week showed.
And an investigation of nearly 12,000 Danish households in mid-December revealed that Omicron was 2.7 times to 3.7 times more infectious than the Delta COVID-19 variant among vaccinated Danes. That study was published by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Statistics Denmark and Statens Serum Institut, who concluded the variant is spreading more rapidly because it is able to evade vaccine-derived antibodies.
Draghi’s government did not say whether there would be any penalty handed down to older Italians who choose to remain unvaccinated. It’s also not clear if the government will propose even more vaccine mandates if the current plan fails to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza told reporters Wednesday that anyone 50 or older will be checked to determine if they have a “super green pass” before they go to work, according to The Associated Press. The rule will be imposed starting Feb. 15.
“We are making these choices in order to restrict the unvaccinated as much as possible, as this is what is causing the burden on our hospital system,” Speranza told media outlets.
Ministers from the League party issued a statement criticizing the over-50 vaccine mandate, calling it “without scientific foundation” and noted “that the absolute majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are well over 60” in Italy.
There have also been widespread protests across Italy against the mandating of vaccines for many months now amid support from other segments of the community.
Several weeks ago, Austria has announced plans to make vaccination mandatory for anyone over aged 14 years old starting from next month. In Greece, it will be compulsory for anyone over 60 to get the vaccine.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times