Italy has already vaccinated almost 1m people against Covid-19

Almost a million people in Italy have received the vaccine against Covid-19, the latest figures published by the Health Ministry show. Up until 15 January, a total of 972,099 vaccinations are reported as having been administered to people in Italy, or 69% of the doses that had been delivered by that date.

Italy is prioritising medical workers and elderly care home residents for the vaccine and it is not yet available to the general public.

Italy's government said it was confident most of the population could be vaccinated by September, Reuters reports. Authorities stressed that vaccines would not be immediately distributed to the general population in Italy. Doctors and other health care workers have to get the first doses (some 1.4 million people) along with residents in care homes (just over 570,000 people), the Health ministry said. Those aged over 80 will be next in line, followed by those aged 60-79, and those suffering from at least one chronic disease. Vaccines will then be distributed to key workers - teachers, police, prison’s wardens.

After that, it will be offered to the general population at walk-in centres and specially-designed kiosks.

Scientists estimate that 60-90% of a population needs to be vaccinated, possibly every year, to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus and stop future outbreaks.

Italy on Thursday reported 17,246 new COVID-19 cases, pushing total active infections to 561,380, according to the latest numbers posted by the Ministry of Health. The figures also showed that the death toll has risen to 80,848, up by 522 from the previous day.

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