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Who is in Italy's Covid-19 vaccine priority groups?

Published: 11/02/2021 By The Abode Team

The elderly, people with certain health problems and key workers are among those next in line for a Covid-19 vaccination in Italy. Here are the details.

The Italian Health Ministry overhauled its vaccination plan last week after regulators advised that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which began arriving in Italy a few days ago, should preferably be used on adults under 55. As a result, health services will use the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on the elderly and people with health problems, while offering shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to younger, healthier key workers outside healthcare weeks earlier than planned. Most health workers, as well as nursing home staff and residents, already got their jabs in the first five weeks of Italy's vaccination campaign.

While that means as many as 24 million people in Italy could potentially join the queue for a jab, the order they'll get one in depends on how vulnerable they are to serious illness, and how high the risk they'll be exposed.

Now the Health Ministry has released an updated version of its list of priority groups. They are as follows:

  • Category 1: people at very high risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19, aged 16 up
This category includes people with any of the following conditions: respiratory illness such as pulmonary fibrosis; severe cardiovascular disease; neurological disabilities or diseases such as multiple sclerosis; diabetes; cystic fibrosis; kidney failure; autoimmune diseases; liver disease; strokes and cerebrovascular disease; cancer (including patients who finished treatment less than six months ago); Down's syndrome; organ or bone marrow transplants (including patients on the wait list); severe obesity. 
In some cases, carers are also eligible for vaccination.

Estimated total: around 2.1 million people.

  • Category 2: people aged 75 to 79
This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 2.6 million people.

  • Category 3: people aged 70 to 74
This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 3.3 million people.

  • Category 4: people aged 16 to 69 at a higher risk of illness from Covid-19
This category includes people with less severe forms of certain conditions in Category 1, as well as some others: respiratory illness; cardiovascular disease; neurological diseases or disabilities; diabetes; HIV; kidney disease; arterial hypertension; autoimmune diseases; liver disease; cerebrovascular disease; organ or bone marrow transplants.

Estimated total: around 5.8 million people.

  • Category 5: people aged 55 to 69
This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

Estimated total: around 11.9 million people.

  • Category 6: people aged 16 to 54
This category includes everyone in this age group who doesn't have one of the health problems above.

But within Category 6, the following groups will be given priority: teachers, lecturers and other staff at schools and universities; members of the armed forces, police and fire fighters; prisoners, wardens and other prison staff; people living in religious or other shared communities; other unspecified "key services". Heathy adults who aren't in any of those groups will be at the very back of the line for vaccination.

Estimated total: around 29 million people.

Because Categories 1-5 will receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and Category 6 will get the AstraZeneca version, young, healthy adults who work in a key sector could find themselves bumped towards the front of the queue. More than 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are due to arrive in Italy in the first three months of 2021 and are currently earmarked for young and healthy essential workers. Under the revised plan, Italy's new targets are to administer some 2 million doses in total in February – the same number delivered in the first five weeks of the programme so far – climbing to 4 million in March and 8 million in April. Its latest delivery estimates count on receiving 14.5 million doses of all vaccines together in quarter one, rising to 64.5 million in quarter two, and 68 million in quarter three.