Covid-19 vaccine: what you need to know about the timetable, priorities and risks

Covid-19 vaccine: what you need to know about the timetable, priorities and risks

The Ministry of Health and AIFA have published the answers to the most common questions on the vaccination plan: here are the most important

The long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine has finally arrived. On December 27, the first vials of the drug developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and authorized by the European Commission on the recommendation of the EMA, the European Medicines Agency, were distributed in the countries of the European Union, including Italy, for what the extraordinary commissioner for the emergency Domenico Arcuri defined a "symbolic" day.

Now that the vaccine has arrived, however, there are many questions that people are asking about when and how the vaccination plan will be managed. We try to clarify thanks to the information published on the website of the Ministry of Health and on that of AIFA.

Index

  • PRIORITY CATEGORIES
    • Who will get the vaccine first?
    • I belong to the categories considered priority. How can I access the vaccination?
    • I am immunodepressed. Can I get the vaccine and when?
    • Can children get the vaccine?
  • ADMINISTRATION OF THE VACCINE
    • Is the vaccine mandatory?
    • How many doses will it take to make me immune?
    • If I experience adverse reactions, who should I contact?
  • VACCINATION CALENDAR
    • How is the vaccination calendar structured?
    • I have already contracted Covid-19. Can I get the vaccine and – if so – when?
    • I am a pregnant woman, am I entitled to get the vaccine before the others? Are there any risks?

PRIORITY CATEGORIES

Who will get the vaccine first?

In the initial phase, which will last about three months, the categories of people who have been identified as priorities for vaccination are: health and social health workers, i.e. those who have a higher risk of being exposed to Covid-19 infection and transmit it in turn; the residents and staff of residential care centers for the elderly (the so-called RSAs), who are among the people most affected by Covid-19 due to their high age, previous pathologies and the need for assistance even just to feed themselves (which puts risk also the staff who look after them); people of advanced age, because "given the high probability of developing a serious disease and the consequent recourse to intensive care or sub-intensive care, this population group represents a priority for vaccination".

I belong to the categories considered priority. How can I access the vaccination?

In the first phase, people who fall into the priority categories will not have to register or book, but "will be contacted with an active call".
In the circular of 24 December, "Recommendations for the organization of the vaccination campaign against SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 and vaccination procedures", it is stated that "it is necessary to organize vaccination activities in supplementary vaccination centers with respect to those already present for routine vaccination activities ". These are identified and divided into: Hospital Vaccination Points, reserved for the administration of vaccination to health and social health workers of health facilities; Territorial Vaccination Points, for health workers who carry out extra-hospital activities (for example general practitioners); Vaccination points in residential facilities, which will allow the administration of the vaccine within the same RSAs.
The Population Vaccination Points, which will be used in the subsequent phases of the vaccination campaign, are not included at the moment, considering that the rest of the population will be able to undergo the vaccine at a later time (they are those discussed in recent days that should have the shape of large primroses and which should be set up in city squares).

I am immunodepressed. Can I get the vaccine and when?

About people with immunodeficiency or who are undergoing treatment with immunomodulating drugs, the Ministry of Health says that there are limited data. However, "although such subjects may not respond as well to the vaccine, there are no particular safety problems". Furthermore, according to what is established in the Strategic Plan, these categories of people "must be vaccinated in the early stages, as they are more likely to get sick with COVID-19".

Can children get the vaccine?

The vaccine currently in circulation, the one produced by Pfizer BioNTech and approved by the EMA, is currently not recommended for children under the age of 16, who will therefore not be part of the early stages of the vaccination plan. "The European Agency, as well as other international agencies, await further studies in order to authorize vaccination on the pediatric population," reads the portal of the Ministry of Health.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE VACCINE

Is the vaccine mandatory?

The government has repeatedly announced that it has no intention of making vaccination compulsory, although it has made it known that citizens' membership rates will be assessed during the campaign. The goal is to achieve herd immunity that can be achieved with 80% of the population vaccinated.

"We could have 13 million vaccinated as early as April 1 and thus we would have already reached Phase One, that is, the one that allows us to have the first epidemiological impact," said Health Minister Roberto Speranza. At the moment, however, it is not the Government's intention to require vaccination to be compulsory, even if the participation rate of citizens will be assessed during the campaign.

How many doses will it take to make me immune?

Both for the vaccine produced by Pfizer BioNTech, the only one currently approved by the EMA and already in circulation, and for other vaccines in the approval phase, two doses are currently planned a few weeks apart depending on the type of vaccine. Also for the second administration people will proceed to call.

If I experience adverse reactions, who should I contact?

The reporting of any reaction to the administration of the vaccine can be made to your family doctor or to the local ASL, as well as for all other adverse reactions to any drug.
In addition, anyone can report a vaccine adverse reaction in the first person using the forms published on the AIFA website. The same Agency, then, "will promote the launch of some independent post-authorization studies on COVID-19 vaccines".

VACCINATION CALENDAR

How is the vaccination calendar structured?

At the moment, the vaccination plan includes four phases: a first phase, that of this first quarter, dedicated – as already mentioned – to health and social-health workers, to the staff and guests of residential facilities for the elderly and the elderly over 80 ; the second phase will be aimed at men and women aged between 60 and 79 and at people with at least one chronic comorbidity. In spring and summer presumably it will be the turn of teachers and school staff, and other categories of the population belonging to essential services such as law enforcement, prison staff and community places. In the fourth trimester all others should be vaccinated. It is a growing process: “vaccines – the Ministry of Health say – will be offered to the entire population, according to an order of priority, which takes into account the risk of disease, the types of vaccines and their availability.

I have already contracted Covid-19. Can I get the vaccine and – if so – when?

As stated on the AIFA website, "vaccination does not contrast with a previous COVID-19 infection, on the contrary it strengthens its immune memory, so no tests before vaccination are useful. However, those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do not need a vaccination in the first phase of the vaccination campaign, while it could be considered when obtaining data on the duration of immune protection ”. Those who have already had the coronavirus will therefore be able to get vaccinated, but only after the people considered most at risk.

I am a pregnant woman, am I entitled to get the vaccine before the others? Are there any risks?

"Data on the use of the vaccine during pregnancy are still very limited, but laboratory studies on animal models have not shown harmful effects in pregnancy," says the Medicines Agency. "The vaccine is not contraindicated and does not exclude pregnant women from vaccination, because pregnancy, especially when combined with other risk factors such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, could make them more at risk of severe COVID-19 . The Istituto Superiore di Sanità has in place a surveillance system on pregnant women in relation to COVID-19 that could offer further useful information. Although there are no studies on breastfeeding, on the basis of biological plausibility there is no risk that prevents continuing breastfeeding. In general, the use of the vaccine during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be decided in close consultation with a health professional after considering the benefits and risks ", concludes AIFA.

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