Both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have already received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Vatican confirmed on Thursday, January 14.
“I can confirm that as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican City State, as of today, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office in response to journalists’ questions.
The two leaders of the church were administered the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. They are scheduled to receive their second dose within three weeks. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)
The Vatican began administering mass vaccinations on Wednesday, January 13. All residents, employees, and their families have been receiving their doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall. (Read: Pope Signs up for Vaccination, Says Others Should Do the Same)
Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, the Vatican Director of Health and Hygiene, said on January 2 that the Vatican had purchased a low-temperature refrigerator to store the vaccine. He added that priority will be given to frontliners and the elderly.
“We believe 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,” he said.
“In fact, only through widespread immunization of the population can real benefits in terms of public health be obtained to gain control of the pandemic.” (Read: Caritas PH Joins Pope Francis’ Call for COVID-19 Vaccine ‘for All’)
The Vatican City State is known to be the smallest independent nation-state in the world. Currently, it has a population of around 800 people. However, with its thousands of employees at the Holy See, the city’s population can reach up to 5,000 people.