Will the pope get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pope Francis, who will receive the coronavirus vaccine, waving to supporters
Photo via Republic of Korea/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pope Francis has announced that he’ll receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and he urged others to do the same in the interest of their own safety and the safety and health of others. 

The pope could receive his first injection as soon as mid-January, according to an interview with Italian television channel TG5. “I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine,” he told reporters. “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.”

As noted by Reuters, the pope could potentially be at heightened risk from the coronavirus. This is not only due to his advanced age—the pope turns 85 this year—but also because he lost a portion of his lung when he was young. 

The pope has been adamant in urging global leaders to make vaccines available to all citizens. He apparently intends to lead by example, as Vatican City, which is home to around 450 residents, intends to inoculate all of its citizens in January and February. The world’s smallest independent country anticipates that it will receive enough doses to inoculate all of its residents, as well as any workers who live outside the city in Rome.

In anticipation of the impending vaccines, the Vatican purchased an “ultra-cold refrigerator” capable of storing the vaccine at the proper temperatures. 

The pope is often looked to for approval by members of the Catholic church, some of whom died in 2020 without receivng their last rites because of the pandemic. His approval of the COVID-19 vaccine, which he called “morally acceptable” despite its use of fetal remains, serves as permission for other Catholics to likewise receive a vaccination.

This is particularly good news when considering that an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics exist worldwide, according to the BBC. 

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Sources: The Independent, Reuters, BBC

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