Second vaccine dose on holiday? Italy gets organised
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The fear of coronavirus has eased in Italy with the roll-out of vaccinations but a more pressing concern has arisen -- will getting the second dose interfere with summer holidays?
The problem has dominated the front pages of Italy's newspapers in a country where many people break off for a long vacation in July or August.
Finally, after weeks of top-level political discussions, many Italians will now be able to get their second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines away from home.
"Vaccines in the holidays: the rules," headlined Italy's main newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, on Thursday.
Italy has been among the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic, but infections and deaths have plummeted in recent weeks thanks largely to a vaccination campaign that has seen almost 40 million doses administered among the 60-million-strong population.
Now many are prioritising taking a much-needed break after months of coronavirus restrictions.
"I don't want to take the risk," said Franco Liberti, a 59-year-old who works in Rome but is planning to return to his native Calabria in the south this summer.
"So I cancelled my reservation for the first dose and booked another so the second falls after my return," he told AFP.
"That way, I can head down there without worrying."
Italy's special coronavirus commissioner, General Francesco Figliuolo, has written to the heads of regional governments setting out the rules for the holiday jabs.
Amid fears from some regions they will run out of stocks if tourists arrive en masse, he said people can only get their second dose away from their main residence if they are visiting for a long period and inform the health authorities in advance.
The rules must still be approved by the regions, which have responsibility for healthcare. But two pioneers, Piedmont and Liguria in the north-west, have already signed a reciprocal deal to cooperate on the issue.
In 2019, the last year before the pandemic put a halt to most travel, 76 percent of trips taken by Italians were within the country, according to national statistics agency Istat.
And some 47.6 percent involved Italians visiting second homes or places provided free of charge by friends or relatives.
To date, almost 13.5 million Italians, or a quarter of the population over the age of 12, have been fully vaccinated, and 26.4 million have received one dose of the vaccine, according to government figures.
© 2021 AFP