Over 100 homeless and disenfranchised individuals have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Vatican recently.
The Office of Papal Charities organized the initiative in response to Pope Francis’ appeal during his Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas Day last year that everyone must have access to the vaccine, with no one being excluded because of poverty.
On Wednesday, papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski welcomed the chosen group to the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican, where they were given the first dose of COVID-19 jab.
The group reportedly received the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, which is the same vaccine administered to the Pope and the employees of the Holy See.
According to a statement by the Office of Papal Charities, during Holy Week, the Holy See purchased doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine—offered by the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital through the Vatican COVID-19 Commission—that will be used to inoculate 1,200 of the “poorest and most marginalized people, who, because of their situation, are the most exposed to the virus.”
The papal charities also set up a webpage where individuals can donate money for vaccinations of people in need.
The Holy See said that in the next few days leading to Easter Sunday, other groups will receive the vaccines, accompanied by volunteers from charities.
The Vatican started its vaccination program in mid-January, where Pope Francis, a number of clergy members, and workers have already been given the jab.
As the city-state started its vaccine rollout in January, Pope Francis requested that homeless people who live around St. Peter’s and are assisted at the shelter of the Office of Papal Charities by among the first to be vaccinated.
In his traditional Christmas message in 2020, Pope Francis said, “I ask everyone—government leaders, businesses, international organizations—to foster cooperation and not competition, and seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy.”
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