Pope Francis and former Pope Benedict have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the Vatican said Thursday.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that he was “able to confirm that within the vaccine program of the Vatican City State, to this date the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus.”
The statement did not say when 84-year-old Pope Francis or his 93-year-old predecessor were inoculated. Vatican City began its vaccine program on Wednesday in a medical center set-up inside its main Auditorium Hall, where the pontiff often holds his weekly audiences. Both men are at higher risk of contracting the virus because of their age.
In recent weeks, Francis has spoken several times on the subject of vaccines. Over the weekend, he said people have an “ethical duty” to take the vaccine and confirmed he was in line to receive one once the Vatican’s vaccination program got underway.
Pope Francis holds the Holy Book of Prayers as he celebrates Mass for the Epiphany on January 6.
“I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine. It is not an option, 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 pontiff said in an interview with Italy’s Canale 5 channel broadcast on Sunday night, foreign media reported.