Subdued anti-Covid vaccinations, little information and organisation: the Ministry of Health, through a circular, asks the Regions to speed up vaccination procedures with family doctors, paediatricians and pharmacies which, it reports, are going slowly. “Taking into account that the progress of the current anti-Covid vaccination campaign still sees a reduced number of vaccinations” and which arrive at the General Directorate of Prevention of the Ministry of Health, since the beginning of the 2023-24 campaign, reports from citizens of “difficulty in accessing vaccination”the ministry with a circular recommends “implementing the most appropriate organizational measures” in particular calling into question the operational collaboration of general practitioners and paediatricians of free choice and pharmacies.
The circular also asks for strengthen communication and information activities and to make it possible for citizens to book the anti-Covid vaccination via a regional online platform. From 25 September (when the new vaccination campaign started) to 1 November, 254,554 doses of the anti-covid vaccine (Comirnaty XBB 1.5) were administered in Italy. The regions where the greater number of vaccinated they are Lombardy (101,783 equal to 1.02% of the population), followed by Emilia Romagna (38,856, 0.88%) and Tuscany (35,276, 0.97). Then come Piedmont, Puglia and the Lazio region. The last places they are occupied by Calabria (with 324 doses administered), Molise (391) and Umbria (873), while for Sicily, Abruzzo and Basilicata there are still data communication problems. “A strong delay” also concerns Lazio, especially in the city of Rome.
“So far, less than 10 thousand people have been vaccinated in Lazio who have received a booster shot with the updated Covid vaccine, compared to over 100 thousand in Lombardy – he explained Alessio d’Amato, councilor of the Lazio Region, Welfare manager of the national Action secretariat -. There are over 1 million elderly and frail citizens in Lazio who must be protected, starting with those who reside in nursing homes and retirement homes. To date, less than 1% has been covered.”
The Regions are behind schedule
“It would be appropriate for the Regions to make public the methods for offering anti-Covid and anti-flu vaccinations, in order to inform citizens about the possibilities of joining the vaccination campaign and the places where the vaccines are administered”, says the president of Fnomceo Filippo Anelli . In fact, vaccinations can be done in offices of family doctors and paediatricians and in pharmacies, as well as in vaccination centers. “There is a general tiredness towards vaccinations, a push is needed on a communication level – insists Anelli -. The doctors who are involved in vaccinations are carrying out a priority activity starting from the most fragile. The ministry has every possibility to monitor the situation, to understand the Regions’ methods and to let citizens know what is available. The doses are there.”
“I confirm everything that the director Francesco Vaia he writes in his circular, there are problems with Covid vaccines in some regions but it is not the fault of the Ministry of Health. Some Regions have not yet made agreements to bring the doses to pharmacies such as the Lazio region, where only the anti-flu vaccine is still given in pharmacies – he adds Marco Cossolo, president of Federfarma (the association that brings together 19 thousand private pharmacies throughout Italy) -. The mechanism works well where the pharmacies have made agreements with the regions”. And he mentions Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Liguria, Piedmont and the Marche. “The problem – he concludes – is where the regions they didn’t make the agreements.”
We protect diabetics from the flu
Particularly important, among the vaccinations to be increased at the start of the winter season, is flu coverage for diabetics. The professor highlights this in her research on the topic Ilaria Dicembriniassociate of Endocrinology at the University of Florence and coordinator, together with the doctor Valeria Sordiof the San Raffaele in Milan, of the joint working group Sid-Amd-SiTI diabetes and vaccines.
“Diabetes is a risk factor for more severe outcomes than influenza – underlines Dicembrini -. Suffice it to say that it increases the risk of hospitalization in intensive care by 1.7 times, the risk of hospitalization for flu or pneumonia by more than 3.5 times and the risk of mortality by more than 3 times. This is why diabetologists advise their patients to undergo vaccination which has a high efficacy and safety profile and significantly reduces risks, for example that of overall mortality, to 0.57%”.
The Ministry of Health considers people with diabetes to be at high risk of complications and mortality, therefore recommends vaccination as soon as possible. The PNPV which came into force on 7 September integrates the National Prevention Plan (PNP) 2020-2025, which represents one of the tools for implementing the Essential Level of Assistance (LEA). “Collective prevention and public health – concludes Dicembrini – also through vaccination strategies to be applied uniformly in the country. The anti-flu vaccine is provided free of charge both to people with diabetes and to their family members and close contacts”.