Rome: In a forthcoming television interview, Pope Francis says that he will soon receive a coronavirus vaccination, perhaps as early as next week, while calling the inoculation a duty for everyone.
"I believe that ethically everyone needs to receive the vaccine," Francis said in an interview with Italy's TG5 that will air Sunday.
Francis did not specify the exact timing of his inoculation, but the pontiff said the Vatican's vaccine rollout will begin next week and that he had already booked an appointment.
Francis's plan sends a significant pro-vaccine signal to the world's 1.3 billion Catholics. But it also marks a crucial step in safeguarding an 84-year-old who is missing part of a lung, doesn't like to wear a mask and relishes face-to-face interaction. Medical experts say even those vaccinated should continue to wear a mask.
Vatican watchers had widely anticipated that Francis would be administered the jab, and he has spoken favorably for months about the international vaccine effort, calling it a light of hope "in this time of darkness." Until now, though, the Vatican had remained vague on its vaccine plans for the pope. The Holy See only said that its campaign would first target the elderly, medical personnel, and those most in contact with the public
The Vatican's health director said the city-state would be using the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.
In the upcoming interview, Francis suggested his own perspective on vaccines had been shaped by childhood memories of polio, when "so many kids ended up paralyzed because of this and there was a desperation to receive the vaccine."
"I don't know why some will say, 'No, the vaccine is dangerous.'" Francis said. "But if doctors offer it to you as something that can work, that poses no special risk, why not take it? There is a suicidal denialism that I wouldn't know how to explain, but today you need to take the vaccine."