COVID-19: first phase of vaccination underway for UN staff in Italy

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ROME, FEBRUARY 15 – The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for UN personnel in Italy delivering humanitarian support in frontline situations has got underway. In Italy, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, is the UN Designated Official, the highest ranking official accountable to the UN Secretary General for the safety and security of the personnel of UN agencies, funds and programmes in Italy, as well as their dependents.

In this context, following a call from the UN Secretary General to all UN Member States and from the FAO Director-General to the highest governmental authorities, the Italian Government confirmed that it will include all UN employees, and former employees, and their dependents present on the territory in the national vaccination campaign being rolled out.

Beginning in February, 180 first responders from the International Organization for Migration (OIM) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as a small number of first responders from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and FAO, were vaccinated in the headquarters of FAO by its medical team.

The vaccinations were administered to this group in line with the current approach of the Italian health authorities covering, in the first phase of the vaccination campaign, individuals who fall into defined higher risk groups with special consideration given to those working in vulnerable frontline care situations.

FAO has agreed with the Italian authorities, under the framework of the World Health Organization’s guidelines, to strictly adhere to established national protocols which during the first phase primarily covers individuals who fall into defined higher risk groups, and to later expand vaccinations beyond the initial targeted priority groups to gradually include other categories. In subsequent phases, the campaign aims to cover UN personnel and their dependants who opted to receive the vaccination in Italy through registration in the dedicated portal in FAO. In consultation with the local authorities, different phases and timelines for the vaccination campaign are being established. In the meanwhile, UN personnel have been asked to express their interest in being vaccinated – which though not mandatory is strongly recommended. (@OnuItalia)