Italy Makes COVID-19 Vaccination Mandatory for All Healthcare Workers

The Italian government announced on March 31 a decree requiring all healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, pushing back against anti-vaxxers.

According to the decree approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet, health workers, including pharmacists, “are required to undergo vaccination.”

“The aim of the measure is to protect as much as possible both medical and paramedical staff and those who are in environments that may be more exposed to the risk of infection,” the government said in a statement.

The decree also allows hospital employers to suspend without pay for the rest of the year any healthcare worker who refuse to take the vaccine.

“It is absolutely not okay that unvaccinated workers are in contact with the sick,” Draghi said at a press conference last week when he announced that the government had the intention to “intervene” with unvaccinated healthcare workers.

According to a report by the New York Times, up to 15% of medical workers in some major hospitals — an estimated 400 — refused to take the vaccine. Medical workers were given priority in the vaccination campaign ahead of older people.

However, government critics have raised questions on the legality of forcing healthcare workers to take the vaccine.

New York Times also reported that according to some legal analysts, making the vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers could violate privacy laws in Italy. They also said that firing or forcing a healthcare worker to take an unpaid leave for refusing to take the vaccine could be unconstitutional due to a specific article that protects people who refuse to receive health treatments.

According to government data, Italy has administered a total of 3,006,829 vaccines to health personnel.

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