Italy’s Draghi mulls vaccine requirement, triggering political storm

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COVID 19 vaccine

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s support for compulsory vaccination has caused a storm among the country’s lawmakers.

The head of the right-wing nationalist party Fratelli d’Italia, Giorgia Meloni, said she opposed the move in comments to La Stampa newspaper, thereby aligning herself with former interior minister Matteo Salvini, who is also against making shots compulsory.

“I think Salvini is right to take a reasonable position, which we support and which is shared by the majority of European countries,” she said.

On Thursday, Draghi said he could conceive of introducing a general vaccination obligation, during remarks to the press.

The prerequisite would be for the European and Italian medical regulators to change their classification of vaccines as emergency medicines with conditional approval, and instead issue a full approval.

His comments were welcomed by some, such as Social Democrat leader Enrico Letta.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza noted that vaccines are already compulsory for the country’s health workers. Expanding the requirement is up to the nation’s institutions, government and parliament, he said, noting this would still have to be passed into law.

Italians are already divided over the expansion of what is known as the Green Pass to apply in schools and universities. The document records proof of vaccination or negative tests.

The expanded use of the pass means that as of the beginning of the school year, teachers must either be vaccinated, prove they have tested negative or have recovered from the virus in order to teach in person.

The Italian government does not want to introduce distance learning again.

The requirement does not make vaccination compulsory for teachers, but those who cannot prove they have recovered from the virus would theoretically have to take regular, frequent Covid-19 tests which cost money. The tests are only valid for 48 hours at a time.

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