Some people will do just about anything to avoid getting vaccinated. Guido Russo, an Italian man in his 50s, was just cited for wearing a fake arm to a vaccine clinic in Biella in the northern part of the country. Authorities said he was pretending to get vaccinated as a way of getting around Italy’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Italy is about to implement new restrictions for anyone that remains unvaccinated. Starting today, most public activities, such as eating out, shopping, and live entertainment, will be off limits to those that have yet to get their shots.
The number of new COVD-19 cases has been steadily rising since October, but the country has one of the highest vaccination rates in the West. Currently, just over 73% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Authorities hope the new restrictions for the unvaccinated will encourage more people to get the shot. Italy has one of the highest death rates in the world with over 134,000 COVID-19 fatalities.
The vaccine is also mandatory for all healthcare workers in Italy.
Authorities said that Russo arrived at the vaccine clinic looking to obtain a health certificate, so he could keep his job as a healthcare worker. Records show he is the only working dentist in the city.
Alberto Cirio, the president of the Piedmont region, explained the incident in a video on Facebook over the weekend. Russo tried to “deceive” staff into giving him a shot, Cirio said in the clip.
He added that the silicon arm looked “very similar” to real skin.
“However, the color and touch raised the suspicion of the health worker, who asked him to show the whole arm,” Cirio said. “The incident would border on the ridiculous, were it not for the fact that we are talking about an extremely serious act.”
The man was reported to the police and will soon face criminal charges.
Records show Russo had already been suspended from his job for refusing to get vaccinated.
Filippa Bua, the nurse who administered the shot, said she quickly realized that something was wrong when she looked at the fake arm.
“When I uncovered the arm, I felt skin that was cold and gummy, and the color was too light,” she said.
She added that she initially believed him and thought he was an amputee who mistakenly presented her with the wrong arm before realizing he was trying to avoid getting vaccinated all together using a prosthetic.
“I understood immediately that the man was trying to avoid the vaccination by using a silicone prosthetic, into which he hoped that I would inject the drug, unaware,” Bua said. He eventually lifted his shirt to show her the prosthetic limb.
Bua confirmed the man said he was trying to get a “green pass”, the country’s proof of vaccination card, and that he tried to persuade her to go along, but she declined. She said the man was courteous during their exchange and promptly left after failing to get a shot.
“We stopped and reflected, and we understood that this wasn’t just a surreal situation, but a real attempt at fraud,” Bua said. She then submitted the proper paperwork, so her supervisor could report the failed attempt.
Russo has a good reputation among his patients where he is known as openly anti-vax. He had a sign on the door to his practice that read, “Exclusively voluntary green pass presentation”, to show his patients that he wasn’t concerned with vaccination status.
“If it were not for the fact that the gesture put the entire category in a bad light, it would also have been nice,” said some of the other tenants of the building, “But during the pandemic you can’t do such things.”
He could no longer perform on his patients once the country’s mandate went into effect for healthcare workers.
Russo may have even posted about the idea on Twitter under a fake name just before the incident occurred. A person named Giuseppe Maria Natale recently took to social media to discuss a silicone arm on sale for around 500 euros on Amazon. The now-deleted tweet read, “If I go with this, do they notice? Maybe I’m under a silicone bust, I also put some other garment to avoid getting the needle to my real arm.”
If you have yet to get vaccinated and are in danger of losing your job, it’s best to get the shot instead of wearing a faux limb.