“RESPECT” and “an openminded approach” have governed Italy’s Covid vaccination campaign, with the government avoiding a strict mandate by allowing unvaccinated people a couple of days’ grace each time they do a Covid test.
Italy suffered during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, but WA Italian consul Nicolo Costantini is proud of how his country has emerged and believes the rest of the world should follow their lead.
Italy has adopted a “green pass” system that’s needed to attend workplaces, public venues, or to travel.
A year-long pass is given to people who are fully vaccinated, six months to those who’ve had the virus and recovered, and people who are unvaccinated can get a temporary green pass if they come up negative on a Covid test.
But it requires paying €15 for a rapid test that gives a 48 hour pass, or upwards of €50 for a PCR test giving a 72 hours pass.
The Italian government hopes this will encourage people to take the easier route of getting vaccinated, which is free.
Mr Costantini says green passes help control outbreaks, but also reinforce the importance of being vaccinated to the hesitant.
“The vaccine is the only way out from this horrible tunnel of the pandemic,” he says.
“Even though we understand it is not a perfect means,” it mitigates the spread and severity of illness so outbreaks are more manageable.
“On November 14, 2020 in Italy, we had, in one day, 37,000 positive cases.
“On November 14, 2021, we had 7,000… [but] those 7,000 people are not 7,000 sick people; not all of them are at the hospital, not all of them are at the ICU.
“So as of now there are approximately 100,000 positive cases, but there are only 475 people in ICU.
“We see very clearly that without the vaccine, the situation is terrible and it’s very sad to see people that are against the vaccine getting the virus.”
When green passes were introduced two months ago, Italy’s vaccination rate went up 4.4 per cent ‚Äì higher than comparable countries.
There have still been some protests.
“There are people who do not agree with the vaccine campaign, with being injected, and we respect them,” Mr Costantini says.
“The green certificate should be seen as an incentive for them to go and get vaccinated, but as of now my government is not considering the introduction of compulsory vaccination.
“Hopefully with a very open-minded approach and with a friendly way with dialogue we’ll be able to explain to them and convince them if they do not get vaccinated they’ll be at risk and they’ll pose a risk to the community.
“Eighty per cent of people currently in ICU are not vaccinated.”
Mr Costantini says: “I’m not in a position to say what other countries are doing or if they have a different approach, but I think this is a very European approach… all of the European governments endeavoured to have an open-minded approach and [to] keep an ongoing dialogue with those who are reluctant and those who complain.
“A clash or contrast doesn’t bring anything good; A dialogue can help in understanding people’s reasons.”
by DAVID BELL