Earlier this month, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received their first doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in the Vatican.
Pope Francis, who is 84 and has only one lung after a childhood infection led to the other to be removed, is potentially vulnerable to the disease and was among the first to receive the vaccine at the Vatican.
Pope Francis suggested that people have a moral obligation to receive one of the new coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible. The Pope urged everyone to get the vaccine, to protect not only their own lives but those of others.
‘I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine,’ the Pope said in an interview with TV station Canale 5. ‘It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.’
The Pope also lamented that some people are saying they will not take a vaccine.
‘I do not understand why some say that this could be a dangerous vaccine,’ said Francis. ‘If the doctors are presenting this to you as a thing that will go well and doesn't have any special dangers, why not take it?’
‘There is a suicidal denialism that I would not know how to explain but today people must take the vaccine,’ the pontiff continued, indicating that he and the Vatican strongly support the global vaccination effort.
Earlier in December, the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a note saying it is ‘morally acceptable’ for Catholics to take the new vaccines.
And to ensure the world’s poorest also have access to the vaccine, the Pontifical Academy for Life is calling for international cooperation in setting up vaccine production sites around the world, saying there is ‘too much antagonism and competition’ as well as an obvious ‘risk of severe injustices’ in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a statement from 22 January, the academy said the same kind of collaboration that went into the development of the vaccines must now be employed to ensure there is an adequate supply available, including for the world's poorest countries.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the academy, and Msgr. Renzo Pegoraro, the academy's chancellor, stressed that action must be taken to avoid a late rollout of the vaccine to some countries ‘because of shortages due to the prior purchase of large quantities by the richer states.’
The Vatican's own health service is now offering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the city-state's residents, staff members, and their families.
Pope Francis has expressed a desire that vaccinations be made available in the Vatican to those most in need, and the Holy See Press Office reported last week that 25 homeless people were inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
Melbourne Catholic13 February 2021