No Jab? No Job. Italy to Extend Vaccine Passport to Private Sector Workers

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School staff check vaccine passport status for students and parents inside a school on September 13, 2021 in Turin, Italy. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration intends to expand its vaccine status segregation requirement from the public sector to private sector employees.
School staff check vaccine passport status for students and parents inside a school on September 13, 2021 in Turin, Italy. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration intends to expand its vaccine status segregation requirement from the public sector to private sector employees. (Image: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

The Italian government plans to use its authority to extend its Green Pass vaccine passport requirement from public sector workers to the private sector, according to comments given by a Minister on public radio. 

In a Sept. 15 article, Reuters reported Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini told RAI radio unequivocally, “We are heading towards a mandatory Green Pass not only for public sector workers but also private sector ones.”

Gelmini claimed, “The vaccine is the only weapon we have against COVID and we can only contain infection by vaccinating a great majority of the population.”

The Minister said Thursday’s cabinet meeting would be an “important moment” in expanding vaccination status segregation in the country.

The move was foreshadowed in Italian media last week when outlet ANSA reported in its English language variant that not only is, “The government is considering making it obligatory for all public sector workers and perhaps for private-sector firms too,” but that, “[Prime Minister] Mario Draghi last week said the government could go even further and make it obligatory to be vaccinated for COVID-19.”

And indeed, at the beginning of the month, Draghi told the media his administration has intentions to make vaccination mandatory after the European Union upgrades the injections from emergency use to full approval, while Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in August that Green Pass should also extend to supermarket staff. 

Gelmini’s comments were not isolated. On Sept. 10, ANSA reported that Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta said of the Green Pass, “In the future it must be valid also for employment in the public and private sector.”

Brunetta also called the vaccine passport system “brilliant” because it imposes a hard-to-overcome psychological and monetary penalty on the vaccine hesitant

Yet, not all voices in Europe’s sphere are on side with the trend of vaccine status apartheid. Wolfgang Munchau, Director of news outlet Eurointelligence and former Financial Times Deutschland Editor-in Chief, warned the Draghi administration that forcing vaccination would “turn a small movement of anti-vaxxers into a larger coalition,” according to Express UK.

“My sole explanation is that the advocates of compulsory vaccination are as rabid as the anti-vaxxers themselves. I am reminded of the madness of the second referendum campaign in the UK who had persuaded themselves that they could overturn the 2016 referendum result.”

“Many of them now realise that they could have forced a milder version of Brexit if they had united in opposition to the government. In the process they also damaged the Labour Party, and ensured a majority for the Tories probably for another decade. It was rational to oppose Brexit itself. But second referendum advocacy was hopping mad.” 

“Exactly the same problem applies to compulsory vaccination,” said Munchau.

On Sept. 9, Italy made vaccine passports a requirement for staff of cleaning companies and food service staff who serve schools and universities, according to The Local.

“The final stage of the workplace health pass requirement is scheduled to encompass private sector workers, such as those in large factories and also small and medium-sized businesses,” said the article.

In Israel, a country which recently mandated that fully vaccinated passport status would expire six months after the last injection, forcing citizens to take booster injections to stay out of the segregated social class, Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz was caught giving candid comments to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked admitting vaccine passports served little epidemiological benefit and were about pressuring the hesitant, as Channel 12 news broadcast his mic before a cabinet meeting without his knowledge.

A preprint study out of Israel examining health records from one of the country’s four health services providers found that those double vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech injection were at 27 times greater risk of symptomatic breakthrough infection than those who had natural immunity from a  previous infection, but had not been vaccinated.

While Italy has 65 percent of its 60 million citizens double vaccinated, a big gap exists in vaccine uptake rates between the young generations and the older generations. Our World in Data reveals that while double dose acceptance rates are between 83 and 92 percent between the 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ age brackets, that number falls to only 64 and 63 percent respectively between the 18-24 and 25-49 age brackets

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.