Yes to the third dose for over 40s: what you need to know
Health Minister Roberto Speranza has given the green light to the third dose for those aged 40 to 59.
The announcement, made during a question time in the Chamber, comes at a rather delicate moment. Infections are growing slowly but steadily in our country. The Rt index also rose to 1.21 (although to date no region risks moving into the yellow zone). Hospitalizations are increasing and the peak is expected around Christmas, when 30,000 infections could be reached.
For this reason Speranza himself defined the third dose as “absolutely strategic”, and decided to broaden the audience of those who will be entitled to it.
We understand better, after the latest statement by the Minister of Health, who is entitled to the third dose of vaccine against Covid, and how to request it.
Third dose. Or rather, recall
A terminological clarification is necessary first, which we have already addressed in another article.
In this case it would be more appropriate to talk about a booster dose (or booster, if you really think it necessary to use an English term). The third dose, in fact, is the one that completes the vaccination cycle of the immunosuppressed, who did not respond effectively to the first two doses. It can also be inoculated 28 days after the second. The recall, on the other hand, must be done at least six months after the second dose. It is a kind of second vaccination course, which reactivates the production of antibodies.
But now that almost everywhere we talk about third dose also in reference to the recall, we will adapt to avoid causing confusion in our readers.
Who is taking the third dose today?
The third dose is currently recommended for all over 60s, staff and guests of the RSA, for those who exercise a health profession, for the frail between 18 and 60 years and for immunosuppressed people.
How can I book the third dose?
Each Region has organized itself autonomously to allow the third dose of vaccine to be inoculated.
As a rule, it is necessary to book through a dedicated toll-free number or through the specially created online platforms.
But there is no shortage of regions (such as Campania and Basilicata) in which those who are entitled to the third dose can go directly to one of the vaccination hubs.
What will happen from December 1st?
As Minister Roberto Speranza said (and as it was later written in a circular from the Ministry), from Wednesday 1 December even those aged 40 to 59 can request the third dose of vaccine. It is about 15 million Italians.
However, it remains essential that at least six months have elapsed from the inoculation of the second dose.
The idea is to subsequently enlarge the audience of those who can receive the third dose to the entire adult population. While the approval of the EMA is awaited to extend the vaccination to children aged 5 to 11 years.
What vaccine is used for the third dose?
Regardless of the vaccine inoculated with the first doses, for the booster (i.e. the so-called third dose) we use one of the two m-Rna vaccines, therefore Pfizer or Moderna. In the case of Moderna, a half dose is sufficient.
Same goes for those who have taken the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, or people who have been given a heterologous vaccination (i.e. with AstraZeneca as the first dose and Pfizer or Moderna as the second): third dose six months later, and only with one of the two m-Rna vaccines.
And who has received vaccines not authorized by the EMA?
Who has been vaccinated abroad with a vaccine not authorized by the EMA can receive the recall starting from 28 days and within 6 months of completing primary school. After 6 months, or in case of failure to complete the primary course, it is possible to proceed with a complete primary vaccination course (i.e. both doses, practically as if you had never been vaccinated) with one of the two authorized m-Rna vaccines, therefore Pfizer or Moderna.
Why take the third dose?
Several studies have shown that vaccine protection declines on average from the sixth month after the completion of the vaccination course.
The decline mainly concerns protection from infections. The third dose brings the protection back over 95%. Some studies have shown how the recall could trigger a sort of long-term memory, which would postpone subsequent recall not earlier than 5 or even 10 years.
What is the super green pass?
In recent days there is also talk of super green pass.
It is the proposal for a more rigid green pass, which would allow only vaccinated and cured people to enter bars, restaurants and hotels, on the Austrian model. If desired, this document could also be used to access the workplace.
It was the South Tyrolean governor Arno Kompatscher who proposed to the government to evaluate the hypothesis. But a green certificate that excludes swabs would be almost a synonym for a mandatory green pass.
Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio temporarily excludes this possibility. Di Maio said: “Here the scientific community is not discussing this measure.”