Yep, it’s been (and still is) a big mess.

Back in December we were being told that Italy’s vaccine rollout was coming for COVID. Those of us apart from essential workers (medical, law enforcement, teachers) and people with serious conditions, would be able to start queueing up for our vaccines now (March). Sadly, that’s not the case. We’d hoped with Draghi becoming our new PM that things would quickly fall in line and we’d be finally given clear information.

Why hasn’t that happened?

Italian bureaucracy is a frustrating knot that is difficult to untie, much less loosen.

I realize now that I was employing Pollyanna-style thinking to believe that Italy’s vaccine rollout would be an exception. Waking up every day and hoping for a cloud parting and some real momentum forward hasn’t paid off. So, I must surrender and wait.

Regional differences in bureaucracy are a particular hurdle.

Many of my buddies back in the U.S. have been frustrated about the vast inconsistencies of the country’s individual states. I’d venture to say that Italy’s regions take this to a new level. For Italy’s vaccine rollout, you’d think the directive would be simple to implement. But, take the following story about a failure-to-launch theme. When I read this (read the full article here), not giving into despair was a challenge.

“The vaccine rollout in Italy’s hardest-hit region has been badly hampered by faulty booking systems, media reported Monday, with at least one injection centre nearly empty at the weekend.”

—Agence France Presse

The vaccine doses were there, ready to be administered. But, people hadn’t been notified. They actually had to send out buses trying to round people up to make use of the available vaccines.

Then there are the “surprise” revelations in Italy’s vaccine rollout. My jaw dropped when I read this story, just minutes ago (read the full story here):

“ A stockpile of 29 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine that were found languishing in a facility in Italy became the new flashpoint on Wednesday in the conflict between the pharmaceutical company and the European Union…”

Who the heck knows what’s going on with the Astrazeneca vaccine?

This is incredibly important because it is one of the main (if not the main) vaccines being administered in the UK and the EU.

Just how effective is it? The company was saying Monday that it’s 79% effective against acquiring the virus and 100% effective against severe disease (similar to the J&J) vaccine.

“In the Phase 3 study involving more than 32,000 people, AstraZeneca found that its vaccine was 79% efficacious in protecting against symptoms of COVID-19. In the trial, the two-dose shot—developed by the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company in conjunction with Oxford University—was also 100% efficacious in protecting people from severe symptoms and hospitalization from the disease.”

—Alice Park, Time (read the full article here)

No sooner than this badly-needed dose of optimism about AstraZeneca came out when its methodology for crediting these results surfaced. The media attacked. I won’t go into the details, but I do wonder if there is a battle for the vaccine narrative going on and if companies are jockeying for dominance.

All I know is that if the AZ vaccine becomes available to me, I’ll be right there with my sleeve rolled up!

With Italy’s vaccine rollout in question, the regional color-coded restrictions keep us relatively stable.

There plenty of grumbling about this—and plenty of skeptics and defiant behavior. Just last week Milan went from orange restrictions (freedom to move about within the comune, shops open, restaurants and bar open for takeout only) back to stricter red restrictions (movement only allowed for essential activities within one’s comune and with a self-declaration form filled out and ready for the police if stopped, only essential stores (grocery, pharmacy) and service available. Restaurants open for takeout or delivery only). Anyway, the night before the color switch, streets in the center of Milan were packed for a “last hurrah.”

But, the restrictions have proven effective at knocking back the spread to more manageable numbers. So, until Italy’s vaccine rollout gathers steam, I believe it is our most efffective strategy for treading water.

We pray for clarity in Italy's Vaccine Rollout

Italy’s over-seventy crowd will be next up for making vaccine appointments at the end of March.

I’d like to say this with 100% certainty, but again this may be something happening with a different cadence in different regions. Here in Liguria (we’re an orange zone right now) my in-laws have been told they can phone in to secure a vaccine appointment starting next week. So, if we work down the ladder, my group will probably be sometime in May. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Always waiting.

And yet, I’m still hoping for a sudden surge and coordination that helps us finally turn the corner in a substantive way for Italy’s vaccine rollout.

Fingers crossed. Hands in prayer position. Whatever helps this along! Stay tuned.