COVID vaccinations underway in Rome

Today marks the start of COVID vaccinations in the Italian capital Rome, with a nurse being the first to be vaccinated at Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

Health workers and care home residents in Italy will be vaccinated first, followed by Italian citizens over the age of 80. Those aged 60-70 years’ old and anyone with a chronic illness will be vaccinated next.

Anyone working in schools, prisons and the police will follow – and then the rest of the population.

Italy was the centre of the COVID outbreak, with the city of Milan being a hub for COVID infections at the start of the pandemic. The city is a busy transport crossroads, with train routes across the rest of Italy and into Switzerland and Austria. In February, tourists were arriving for the Venice Carnival, which was interrupted because of the COVID pandemic.

Duomo, Milan (Image A. Meredith)

Tragically, 50 Italian doctors had died by March 2020 as the infection rate spread across the world. However, more than 50 per cent of Italian citizens claim they will be vaccinated and it is hoped that the vaccine will result in herd immunity once 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated. More than 70,000 Italian citizens have died during the pandemic. Italy’s population is roughly the same as the UK’s, at approximately 65,000,000 people.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome, in October 2019, before the COVID outbreak (Image A. Meredith)

Italy received its first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine late on Christmas Day – one of the best Christmas presents ever. Around 10,000 doses of the vaccine were then transferred to Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital.

Architect Stefano Boeri has designed special pavilions to dispense the vaccine, which will be set up in 300 distribution sites initially – many of them will be historic piazzas. Eventually there will be an estimated 1,500 vaccine distribution centres.

Boeri said the pavilions would be solar powered and use recyclable materials. He is known for Milan’s prestigious Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) skyscraper – but is offering his COVID vaccine pavilions free of charge.

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