Rome Newsroom, Jan 13, 2021 / 09:35 am (CNA).- Vatican City State began administering the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday.
Vatican residents and employees and their families are receiving their doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Pope Francis also received his first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 13, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion. He will reportedly receive the second dose in about three weeks.
The pope announced in a recent interview that he would be vaccinated against COVID-19. He also said he believed “that ethically everyone should take the vaccine.”
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will also soon receive the coronavirus vaccine, according to his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.
Gänswein and the rest of the household at the 93-year-old Benedict’s Vatican residence, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, will also be vaccinated.
Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, head of the Vatican health service, told Vatican News last month that he believes “it is very important that even in our small community a vaccination campaign against the virus responsible for COVID-19 is started as soon as possible.”
Vatican City State, the world’s smallest independent nation-state, has a population of around 800 people. But together with the Holy See, the sovereign entity that predates it, it employs more than 4,000 people.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, a total of 27 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Vatican City State. Among them were at least 11 members of the Swiss Guard.
Pope Francis and other Vatican officials have been outspoken in calling for the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, especially to the world’s neediest people.
“I ask everyone — government leaders, businesses, international organizations — to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet,” Pope Francis said in his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on Christmas day.
The 84-year-old Pope Francis is generally healthy, though he suffers from sciatica and had eye surgery for cataracts in 2019. When he was young, he had a portion of a lung removed because of an infection.
More than 79,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The average age of Italy’s victims is around 80, according to AP, which noted that 65% of Italy’s coronavirus dead had three or more other health problems before testing positive.