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No 'arm done? Italian prosthetic protester gets COVID vaccine

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By AP  with Euronews
People wait in line at a COVID-19 vaccination centre, near Tor Vergata hospital in Rome.
People wait in line at a COVID-19 vaccination centre, near Tor Vergata hospital in Rome.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File

An Italian man who tried to get a COVID-19 vaccine in a prosthetic arm has now been jabbed for real.

Dr Guido Russo generated headlines by wearing a silicone arm when he showed up at a vaccine centre in the northern city of Biella earlier this month.

He faces possible criminal fraud charges for his actions after a nurse noticed the fake arm and reported Russo to her managers.

The president of the Piedmont region had said the man tried to "fool health workers" and obtain a COVID health pass.

Italy has required doctors and nurses to be vaccinated since earlier this year, while citizens require a "super green pass" to access restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and other venues.

But Dr Russo -- a dentist -- told the Italian media that the vaccine “is the best weapon we have against this terrible disease”.

In an interview with La7, Russo insisted that he wasn’t trying to defraud the government or to dupe anyone because the arm was obviously not real. The dentist said he wanted to make a personal protest against vaccine mandates.

Russo has acknowledged that his protest failed and said he had actually received a vaccine dose in his arm the next day “because the system obliged me to”.

“I think at this point the vaccine is the only weapon we have against this terrible disease, but there should be a freedom of choice," he told La7.

Russo said he isn’t anti-vaccination and had received all his childhood vaccines.

Nearly 85% of all Italian citizens aged over 12 have been fully vaccinated against the virus, but around 3.5 million adults have still not received their first doses.

Italy's government is soon expanding its vaccine mandate to other categories of workers, including law enforcement officers and teachers.