The Rome hospital offering vaccines to the city’s vulnerable, marginalized

By Mercedes Ortuño Lizarán

Rome, Aug 27 (EFE).- An old hospital in Rome’s Trastevere area has become a shelter and vaccination center for people with no access to Italy’s national healthcare system, renowned for being slow and bureaucratic.

“We are very satisfied because many people are being vaccinated who would have not been able to,” physician and university professor at San Gallicano hospital, Paola Scarcella, told Efe.

The center, an initiative by Special Commissioner for Covid-19 Emergency General Francesco Figliuolo, is open every Tuesday and Thursday when volunteers of the Sant’Egidio community offer help with paperwork and administer coronavirus vaccines to those in need.

“We are all volunteers, doctors, nurses, other health workers, administrative staff, (…) It is the characteristic of all the initiatives and services of the community, everything is free and everything is done voluntarily,” Dr. Scarcella said.

Italian bureaucracy is sluggish and labyrinthian, especially for foreigners and vulnerable people.

In order to book an appointment, residents must show their health card and tax code, which due to the complexity of Italian bureaucracy, many don’t hold.

“This center is an answer to this, it is a way to overcome all these difficulties,” Scarcella said.

Adding to the bureaucracy is booking the appointment, which requires an internet connection. This means people with no access to the internet or a computer, usually older people or those from poorer communities, face difficulties in booking an appointment.

Since opening on 6 July, the center has been vaccinating between 100 to 398 people a week.

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