Local politicians admitted on Monday that the vaccination campaign is turning into a “disaster” due to a flaw in the reservation system in Lombardy (north), the Italian region hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lombardy was the epicenter of the outbreak 13 months ago and the region with the most cases remains today.
Stefania Bonaldi, Karima’s mayor, told La Repubblica newspaper that it was “a disaster from the start”.
In Cremona, the provincial capital near Crema, the vaccination center was nearly empty during the weekend, because people supposed to be vaccinated did not receive a letter asking them to attend.
Local officials had to go through the civil registry and contact people one by one, and the mayor borrowed a minibus to ferry the elderly from their homes.
“Yesterday I took 20 of them (for vaccinations), day 30, plus about 15 teachers,” said Giuseppe Papa, mayor of San Bassano, in another interview with La Repubblica.
On Sunday, Lombardy’s Regional Health Minister Letizia Moratti promised to take “swift and drastic decisions” to correct this “unacceptable” situation.
On Monday, Lombardy’s president Attilio Fontana hit the nail in the head, and asked the board of directors of Aria, the wholly owned company of the region responsible, among other things, for vaccination reservations, to resign. “Otherwise, I will decide to cancel (the appointments) by assigning the general manager to run the company,” he told reporters.
Italy, like the rest of the European Union, suffers from a vaccine shortage, but hiccups in Lombardy, one of the wealthiest regions believed to be among the most effective, were particularly evident.
The country, where nearly 105,000 people died from Covid-19, administered 7.8 million doses and vaccinated just under 2.5 million people, out of a population of 60 million.
In a public health system that leaves much room for maneuver for regions, coordination of priorities has been lacking, despite the national recommendation to focus on those over the age of 80.
Their percentage of receiving two doses of the vaccine ranges from 36.5% in Alto Adige to 2.6% in Sardinia, according to the independent health research center GIMBE.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi promised to use “all means” to fight the epidemic and to significantly increase vaccinations.
The government has set a goal to triple the number of vaccinations to 500,000 per day by mid-April, and to fully immunize 80% of the population by mid-September.
Also see The World Health Organization says the Coronavirus will not be defeated by the end of the year
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