Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the Vatican has announced.
A Holy See spokesman confirmed today that Francis, 84, and the retired Pope, 93, both received the first round of jabs against the virus, as the Vatican City State’s vaccination campaign gets underway.
Francis had already announced he had booked his jab some days ago, while urging everyone that they had an ethical obligation to receive the vaccine.
“It is an ethical choice because you are risking your health, your life, but you are also risking the lives of others,” he said during a recent interview, adding that he could not understand the “suicidal denial” of some posed to the Covid-19 vaccines.
A number of Catholics, and even a handful of bishops, have said they would reject the Covid vaccines on the grounds that they use the cell lines of aborted foetuses. The Vatican’s doctrine office, however, has ruled the vaccines as morally acceptable because anyone receiving an injection is not involved in any abortion.
On 13 January the Vatican announced it had started vaccinating residents of the city-state along with its employees, the majority of whom live in Rome. Priority, the Vatican, said would be given to the elderly and those most in contact with the public.
Vaccinations are being administered in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, which is where the Pope holds his general audiences and large gatherings. It is also walking distance from Francis’ residence the Casa Santa Marta. Vatican News, however, reported that Benedict XVI received his injection in his home in the Vatican gardens, which is a converted monastery known as the Mater Ecclesia.
The Vatican has not said which vaccine it is using. However, it has announced it had brought an ultra-cold refrigerator which suggests that it will use the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which must be stored at about -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit).
In its ruling last December, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech inoculations, which used a cell line from an aborted foetus in the testing stage, were preferable to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which used such cells in the development and design.
Nevertheless, one Bishop, Joseph Strickland of Tyler, in Texas, has told his flock to avoid the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations.