Has mandatory vaccination had an effect in Italy?

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 16th Feb, 2022

The de facto ban on unvaccinated people over the age of 50 from working, which comes into force this Tuesday, has renewed the debate in Italy about compulsory vaccination. Since January 8, all persons who have reached the age of 50 or will reach this age by the end of the age-related general vaccination obligation on June 15 must be vaccinated. In addition, as of Feb. 15, there is a provision that individuals over the age of 50 can only enter the workplace if they have recovered or been vaccinated according to the 2G rule; a negative test is no longer sufficient.

Since February 1, people over the age of 50 without full vaccination protection - with two or three doses, depending on the date of administration of the first vaccine dose - face a fine of 100 euros. Significantly higher than the general fine for unvaccinated people over 50 are the penalties for people in this age cohort if they go to their places of work from this Tuesday without the so-called Super Green Pass (proof according to the 2G rule). Workers face fines of between 600 and 1500 euros for the first violation, as well as being suspended from work without payment of salary and social contributions. However, dismissals may not be imposed for violating the vaccination requirement. Employers who do not comply with their duty to check must expect fines of between 400 and 1000 euros. In the event of a repeat offence, both sides face double the penalties.

Work ban for half a million unvaccinated?

Whether the introduction of age-based mandatory vaccination has led to the desired result is disputed. Around 650,000 people over the age of 50 have been vaccinated since the introduction of compulsory vaccination just over five weeks ago. 1.5 million people in this age cohort remain unvaccinated. This means that only 30 percent of the unvaccinated in this age group have finally been vaccinated since the introduction of compulsory vaccination. The relative proportion of "hard" vaccination refusers is even higher in the age group between 50 and 59. The absolute number of people affected by the February 15 ban is estimated at a good half million. In total, there are 8.8 million workers and employees over the age of 50 in Italy. This means that almost six percent of them will be excluded from work from Tuesday because of the violation of the vaccination obligation.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza defended the introduction of the age-based vaccination requirement as a "correct and courageous step" on Sunday evening on the RAI television channel. Even if the number of infections and especially the number of hospitalizations has been declining significantly throughout the country for a good two weeks, one must "continue to be cautious," the minister warned. Speranza attributed the waning of the recent pandemic wave solely to vaccination success. "91 percent of all Italians over the age of 12 have been vaccinated at least once," the minister stressed, but at the same time acknowledged that more people had been infected in the past month and a half than at any time since the pandemic began around two years ago.

The business community argues against the ban on work for employees over the age of fifty without proof of vaccination or convalescence, arguing that the workers to be suspended cannot be easily replaced. In addition, it is argued that the monitoring of the vaccination status of employees over 50 years of age, which is the responsibility of the companies, would entail considerable costs.

Image by Ahmad Ardity


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