Covid vaccinations soon required to do anything in Italy

Italy had 5,141 new cases on Friday double from the week before.

Starting Aug. 6, Italy will require everyone in the country to prove Covid vaccinations or they can not enter restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas, concerts or sports events. Anyone entering without proof of vaccination, or any business that allows anyone in without proof, is subject to a 400-1,000 euro fine. A business that allows it more than once can be shut down for up to 10 days.

Some say it’s draconian. Some say it’s discriminatory.

I say it’s great.

Discrimination, racial or religious or sexually oriented, is my deal breaker. But I’m all for discriminating against people who endanger others and stand in the way of killing the biggest pandemic in 100 years. Unlike what Trumpeteers believe, ethnic groups don’t put others at risk. Non-vaxxers do. 

The ugly numbers

Italy prime minister Mario Draghi made the announcement on a nationwide TV address Thursday here in Rome as a fourth Covid wave again threatens to envelop my beloved adopted country. To wit:

  • On Friday alone Italy recorded 5,141 cases over 24 hours, double the rate from the week before. 
  • The key Rt number, an indicator showing how many others an infected person can spread the virus to, topped 1, Italy’s magic number for new restrictions. It hit 1.26 on July 18. In Sardinia it was 2.24.
  • In three weeks the number of cases per 100,000 people jumped from 19 to 51. 
  • The Delta variant that is rubbing the world’s nose in the virus is almost 30 percent of Italy’s new cases.

In June, Italy started issuing the green pass, proof for anyone who has been double vaccinated. Why then is our curve going up? Because too many people in Italy, like everywhere else, won’t get jabbed. In fact, it wasn’t until July 19 when 50 percent of Italians got vaccinated.

Now the rest had better. Or stay home.

“This summer is already peaceful and we want it to remain so,” Draghi said during the press conference. “The green pass is a measure that allows Italians to continue running their own businesses, having fun, going to restaurants, attending shows outdoors or indoors, all with the guarantee of being among people who are not contagious.

“In that sense it’s a measure that, though presenting some difficulties in terms of application, gives peace of mind, not one that takes it away.”

The reaction

The reaction has been massive on both ends. I talked to one pub manager Sunday night and he’s wondering about the logistics of checking every customer’s vaccination and their personal ID then writing down their contact information.

Ever since the pandemic broke 16 months ago, Italians have followed the rules like NATO soldiers. They wore masks everywhere. They practiced social distancing. The vast majority supported the government’s nearly monthly changes.

However, this vaccination requirement went too far. It unearthed a community of anti-vaxxers I had no idea existed.

They protested all across Italy, the vast majority unmasked. They marched in Rome; they marched in Milan. One sign read, “Better to die free than live like slaves!” Another read, “Vaccines set you free” — over a picture of the gates of Auschwitz.

Aware of the protests, Draghi issued a stern warning: “An invitation not to get vaccinated is an invitation to die, or to let others die.”

However, Draghi’s announcement scared others straight. In the 24 hours following the announcement, a half million people in Italy made vaccination appointments. Vaccination centers couldn’t keep up with the demand. Registration in Friuli Venezia Giulia, the region in Italy’s northeast corner, went up 6,000 percent. Even Matteo Salvino, federal secretary of the far right League political party, got vaccinated.

I received my second vaccination on June 25. My green pass is on a convenient little app on my cell which I can show at every entrance from restaurants to airplanes. 

That is freedom.

I also feel safe. I’m 93 percent protected against Covid and 60 percent protected against Delta. Non-vaxxers want to live free? How free will they feel in a hospital bed with a tube down their throat?

According to the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS), new cases are 10 times lower among people who are double vaccinated. It’s also rising here among the under-30s, the last age group in line for vaccines. 

The non-vaxxers’ argument

What part of this don’t non-vaxxers understand? Arguing with these people is like arguing with the Flat Earth Society. One friend wrote, “I’m not following the fear game everyone has. I have respect for the virus but I’m not afraid.”

They’re not afraid of the virus that has killed nearly 4.2 million people but they’re afraid of a vaccine that has killed … what, how many? Has there been a documented death from a vaccine? Two Italian men in their 20s died from vaccinations after they were mistakenly given AstraZeneca, the vaccine targeted for only over-60 people like me. I had AZ. I had a headache. Once.

I saw one American oxygen thief write on Facebook that the vaccine death rate is 0.015. Really? That would mean of the nearly 28 million people in the U.S. who have received at least one vaccination, 420,000 have died.

Huh? Where do people get their information?

They get it in the gutter of the Internet, filthy corners of cyberspace where the conspiracy theorists and grammatically challenged dwell. One friend sent me a video of Delores Cahill, a known “anti-Covid lightning rod” from Ireland who’s president of some coffeehouse conspiracy group called the World Doctors Alliance, a non-profit aimed at ending lockdowns worldwide.

She said during a conference in October, “There is no need for a lockdown. There is no need for fear, for masks, for social distancing or quarantining. They’re locking people in homes for last year’s flu.” She said people with symptoms can get well simply by ingesting hydroxychloroquine, zinc or steroids.

Youtube trashed the video.

Another friend sent a post from an always reliable news source: Instagram. It came from a doctor who treated a grand total of 500 patients in a village called Kiryas Joel in Orange County, N.Y. The doctor said he gave hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Azithomyein and not one person died. Gee, great sample. Orange County, N.Y., is ground zero for fighting Covid. Who knew?

Then there is BitChute, a website just to the right of, where a German microbiologist claimed, “They are killing people with Covid vaccines to reduce the world’s population.”

The sources I mentioned are BitChute, Instagram and an Irish wing nut from whom I wouldn’t accept a Band-Aid. My sources? 

The CDC, the ISS, Dr. Anthony Fauci and The New York Times. 

I win.

Covid vaccinations the solution

The non-vaxxers’ claim that the government is taking away their freedom is laughable. No government in any country is breaking down doors and sticking needles in people’s arms. They are merely campaigning and educating, urging more people to get vaccinated. It’s a simple equation: The more people vaccinated, the fewer people who can get sick. The fewer people who get sick, the faster Covid-19 dies.

If people don’t want the vaccine, whether the reason is political or medical, fine. No government will make you. But in Italy you’ll have to live a different life than the rest of us. 

In fact, with Italy at the height of our tourist season, the government’s policy has opened the borders for vaxxers. Italy is accepting vaccination certificates from around the European Union as well as the U.S., Canada and Japan. That includes paper vaccination cards from the U.S. with a CDC stamp.

Still, those of you who are vaccinated and planning Italian vacations, wait a week and see what new rules are announced. The Covid situation here has been fluid for 16 months. 

For you non-vaxxers, enjoy your paranoia. Enjoy your conspiracy chat rooms. Enjoy your isolation.

Italy is not open for your business.