The government of the autonomous province of South Tyrol wants to start a "culture war" against vaccine skeptics.

At the same time, it enforces the compulsory vaccination for employees in the health sector with the systematic suspension of vaccination refusals.

Governor Arno Kompatscher recently conceded in the Bolzano state parliament: “After a good start, we're not making as good progress as expected.” In figures, this means: Only 48.4 percent of South Tyroleans who are eligible for vaccination have had their first vaccination dose so far.

This puts South Tyrol at the bottom of all regions and autonomous provinces in the country.

In the whole of Italy, 55.7 percent of those entitled to vaccinate have been vaccinated once.

32.3 percent gained extensive immunity after the second dose.

The proportion of people vaccinated twice in South Tyrol is 32.3 percent.

Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

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    The very low vaccination rate in South Tyrol is not a logistical or organizational problem, but an outgrowth of the “deeply rooted no-vax movement”, said Kompatscher to the Corriere della Sera: “You can feel the influence of the German-speaking area.” Therefore, you have to have a “cultural Fight “against vaccine skeptics, he said.

    In the age cohort of citizens over 60 years of age, there are relatively few people who refuse to be vaccinated; the problem is people between the ages of 30 and 50 and the younger generation.

    It is important to convince those who hesitate to get vaccinated quickly.

    The ideologically convinced opponents of vaccination are difficult to get over.

    161 employees suspended from duty

    The government in Bolzano hopes that the Green Pass, which was introduced across Europe at the beginning of the month, is an additional vaccination incentive. The Green Pass, by means of which a complete vaccination or recovery is proven, enables access to events and festivals as well as quarantine-free travel across national borders. “The tests are annoying in the long run,” said Kompatscher.

    Meanwhile, the state government is continuing to suspend unvaccinated employees in the provincial medical service. As of Friday, 161 employees had been suspended: they were told by telephone that they were not due to show up for work. Until the end of the year, these employees are not allowed to have any contact with people in need of care. Until then, their wages will also be cut, should no other use be found for them in work areas without patient contact. According to the government in Bolzano, 2,400 people who work in the province's health sector are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. The legal basis for the suspension is the decree of the government in Rome of April 1, according to which employees in health care facilities are in fact required to be vaccinated.

    The provincial medical service includes four health districts and seven hospitals. The government in Bolzano announced that immunization was possible at any time for previously unvaccinated personnel. Suspensions that have already been issued would be lifted when full vaccination protection was achieved. The administration of the medical company examines the statements of 1500 employees who have not yet had themselves vaccinated "for clinical or objective reasons". If the reasons given are deemed to be valid, there will be no suspension. The medical company has a total of 9200 employees. In view of the high rate of vaccination refusals among health care workers who will soon be suspended from service, the administration of the medical services company and the trade unions fear staff shortages.Vaccinated employees may have to reckon with holiday bans during the holiday season, because otherwise operations could not be maintained.