Pope Francis, former Pope Benedict receive first dose of COVID vaccine
Two of the most recognizable religious figures in the world have received the first dose of their COVID vaccinations, according to CNN.
The Vatican announced Thursday (Jan. 14) that Pope Francis and former Pope Benedict have both received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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 specify exactly when 84-year-old Pope Francis or his 93-year-old predecessor were inoculated.
Vatican City initiated its vaccine program Wednesday, making use of a medical center that was staged inside of its main Auditorium Hall, an area where the pontiff typically holds his weekly audiences.
Both religious leaders are at higher risk of contracting the virus due to their age and Francis has openly stressed the importance of being vaccinated.
Over the weekend, he urged members of the community to set up an appointment to be inoculated, saying it was their "ethical duty." During this speech, he added that he was in line to be vaccinated once the Vatican's vaccination program got underway.
"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," Francis said during an interview with Italy's Canale 5 channel broadcast on Sunday night.
Italy is currently reporting a total of 2.32 million COVID cases and 80,326 COVID-related deaths. It also reports that 1.67 million of its residents have recovered from the virus.
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