ROM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Mario Draghi urged Italians on Friday to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, acknowledging that a government decision to ban AstraZeneca doses for people over the age of 60 had created confusion.
Fundamentally essential for people to be vaccinated, Draghi said at a press conference called in a hurry, signaling a turnaround in the AstraZeneca block. The worst thing you can do is not get vaccinated, or just get a vaccine, he said.
The government abruptly restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week following the death of a teenager who had developed blood clots after taking a first dose.
The Italys AIFA medical agency said Monday that those under the age of 60 who had received a first dose of AstraZeneca could be given another vaccine when they receive their second dose.
However, officials have said the vaccination campaign saw a slight drop in numbers over the past week, with some people canceling meetings, apparently worried about the mixing of photos.
Draghi, who is 73, said he himself would receive another type of vaccine next week after tests showed he had developed a low number of antibodies when he received an initial AstraZeneca stroke in March.
Dose mixing is safe, he said, but health authorities would be flexible.
If someone is under 60 years old … and has been offered a different stroke, but does not want it for any reason, this person is free to take the second dose of AstraZeneca as long as they have the approval of the doctor and the consent of informed, he said.
As of Thursday night, 25.3% of Italians were fully vaccinated with another 26.3% awaiting their second stroke.
Draghi said the challenge was to find all those aged 50 and over who had not yet received any vaccinations. These are people who get sick, get seriously ill and need to be vaccinated.
Italy has suffered the second highest number of COVID deaths in Europe after Britain, but infection rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks and the government said on Friday that almost all domestic restrictions would be lifted on Monday.
Although keeping face masks out remains mandatory, Draghi said he would seek medical advice over the weekend when this can be removed.
Despite the recent drop in both cases and deaths, there is concern about the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India and now spreading rapidly in Britain.
Seeking to limit exposure to the variant, the health ministry said on Friday it would reinstate mandatory quarantine and testing for anyone arriving from Britain from Monday.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Edited by Giles Elgood
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