Italy has made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for those aged 50 years and above after the European country reported a record number of daily cases.
Italy’s Council of Ministers announced on Jan. 5 that the measure was to curb the surge of cases fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The Council also tightened workplace vaccine restrictions, requiring employees aged 50 years and above to show a health pass to prove they have been vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19, starting from Feb. 15. Otherwise, they would face suspension from work.
“We want to slow the growth of the infection curve and push Italians who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said after the meeting that lasted over three hours, according to Italian news agency Ansa.
“We are targeting the age groups which are most at risk of hospitalization in order to reduce pressure on hospitals and save lives. At the same time, we want to keep schools and businesses open,” Draghi further said.
The move came after Italy recorded 189,109 new cases and 231 deaths, bringing the death toll to 138,276 — one of the highest in Europe.
According to data, 7% of over-50s in Italy are unvaccinated, but some areas show 11% are unvaccinated.
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