In a cartoonish bid to dodge Italy’s COVID vaccine mandate, a man attempted to dupe a nurse by offering her a fake rubber arm to jab. Unfortunately for him, his trickery was quickly spotted and he could now face possible criminal charges.
Filippa Bua, a nurse currently working on the vaccine rollout at Biver Banca vaccination center in Biella, quickly grew suspicious after noticing the unusual texture and color of the man's arm, according to Italian media.
"When I uncovered the arm, I felt skin that was cold and gummy, and the color was too light,’’ Bua told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
It didn't take much for the nurse to realize that the man was presenting a fake rubber arm, while his real arm was tucked away in his clothing. Once the ruse was uncovered, he made several sarcastic remarks and tried to persuade the nurse to turn a blind eye, but the vaccine center reported the man for fraud to the local prosecutor's office.
"I felt offended as a professional," the nurse said, speaking to La Repubblica. "These are difficult days. People are angry, we often argue. Episodes like these make us waste time."
The man was reportedly a dentist who was suspended from work after he refused the vaccine. Italy currently uses a “Green Pass” system that makes it compulsory for all workers to provide proof of vaccination, a negative test, or recovery from the virus. As of Monday, December 6, Italian health authorities added to this certification with the so-called “Super Green Pass” that can only be obtained through vaccination or recovery from COVID, not by a negative test result. People without these passes are barred from certain activities and venues, such as cinemas, gyms, restaurants, and sports stadiums. As part of this program, the government also introduced a mandate for all healthcare workers, law-enforcement officers, and school staff to receive the vaccine.
Italy has a relatively strong vaccination rate compared to other parts of the world, with over 74 percent of the population having received two doses of the shot, according to Our World In Data. Like many European countries, however, Italy is facing a rising number of COVID-19 cases and there are mounting concerns about the Omicron variant. None of this is to say that the vaccine is not effective; vaccinated people are less likely to pass on the virus than the unvaccinated and vaccinated people with COVID-19 are significantly less likely to need hospitalization compared to non-vaccinated people.
While this attempt to evade the mandate might seem outlandish, it may not be an isolated case. La Repubblica found that people on Twitter have been sharing a silicone bodysuit, complete with muscular arms and pecs, that’s for sale on Amazon for under €500 (over $550). One post in Italian reportedly read: “If I go with this, will they notice it? Maybe under this silicone bust I can also put on some other clothing to avoid letting the needle reach my real arm.”
Another unconfirmed rumor doing the rounds on social media suggests a woman entered a vaccination center and asked if she could receive the shot through her shirt sleeve. After the staff wouldn’t budge, she rolled up her sleeve to reveal a chicken breast taped to her bicep.